European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke believes that Tiger Woods is a strong addition to a U.S. team that will attempt to win back the trophy from his squad next fall.
Woods was named as a vice captain last week by captain Davis Love III. While he still intends to try to play his way onto the team at Hazeltine, Woods will at least play some role for the U.S. squad that has won the biennial event only once since 1999.
"I think with Tiger, and knowing him as well as I do, he will be massive for the team and he will be involved, as he's shown us by accepting Davis' invitation," Clarke said Wednesday at the Australian Open. "So certainly, Tiger's a great addition to Davis' side, whether that be playing or behind the scenes as a vice captain."
Woods is one of four vice captains already named by Love, along with Tom Lehman, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker. Love has said that a fifth assistant will be named at a later time, with the caveat that he may name a replacement should one of his vice captains make the team.
While Woods has said he would prefer the role of a playing vice captain, it's a feasible contingency for a player like Furyk, who won this year at the RBC Heritage and is ranked No. 9 in the world.
The issue of naming replacement assistants is one that Clarke plans to avoid by delaying his own vice captain selections until after the Masters next spring.
"Choosing vice captains is a tricky thing, as the European team formula has always been that our vice captains are prospective captains and guys still playing because those guys are still very, very good players," Clarke said. "So I am not going to be choosing vice captains until I know really they are not going to qualify automatically for the team, so I don't want to insult anybody."
The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Chaska, Minn.