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Watson tabs buddy North as Ryder Cup assistant

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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – With his first assistant captain selection for the 2014 Ryder Cup, Tom Watson stuck with familiarity.

The United States captain named longtime friend Andy North as his first assistant on Wednesday, revealing that he had asked him during dinner a few months ago at Watson’s home in Kansas City.

“My friendship with Andy dates back to 1967,” Watson said. “Any time you have a friend, you can talk honestly to that friend about anything. Whatever conversations I have with Andy, I’ve always known that they’re private and they’re not going to go anywhere else. I really, truly value Andy’s observations.”

North is a two-time U.S. Open champion who for the past two decades has also served as an ESPN analyst.

“It took me maybe a second and a half,” North said of how long before he accepted the position. “He didn't get it out of his mouth before I was giddy, absolutely giddy over the opportunity to not only hopefully have a role to get the cup back, but also to be able to help a dear friend and if I can take a little bit of the responsibility off of his shoulders and make it an easier week for him, that will be awesome for me. I'm looking forward to it, a lot of excitement to the Ryder Cup, it means an awful lot to me.

“I've been lucky enough to cover it for ESPN for maybe the last four Ryder Cups, and I get emotional covering it. It's going to be a great experience, and the bottom line is we get a W at the end of the week.”

The 2014 Ryder Cup will be contested Sept. 26-28 at Gleneagles in Scotland.