By Tony Jimenez
VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Padraig Harrington, Thomas Bjorn and Paul Lawrie will serve as assistant captains when Europe defend the Ryder Cup against the United States in September.
Skipper Darren Clarke made the announcement at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Friday and said he was planning to appoint two more deputies later in the season.
Irishman Harrington, 44, who has featured in six Ryder Cups as a player, was also a vice-captain under Paul McGinley when Europe won by 16 1/2 points to 11 1/2 at Gleneagles, Scotland two years ago.
It will be the fourth time Bjorn has served as an assistant captain. The 45-year-old Dane played in the biennial team event in 1997, 2002 and 2014.
Lawrie will act as a deputy for the first time. The 47-year-old Scot was a member of the losing European team in 1999 and the winning side in 2012.
"I was delighted when Thomas, Padraig and Paul accepted the invitation," said Clarke. "They needed no persuading.
"The three bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and their input will be invaluable to Europe's cause. I could not have asked for anybody better to be standing shoulder to shoulder with me in the bid to bring the Ryder Cup home.
"I have been close to Thomas for many years and know how passionate he is about team golf's greatest competition," added Northern Irishman Clarke.
"Padraig's outstanding career has included three major championship successes and his presence in the team room will bring a big confidence factor. Paul is a major winner and knows exactly what it will take to reach our intended destination."
Harrington lifted the 2007 and 2008 British Open titles and the 2008 U.S. PGA Championship crown. Lawrie won the 1999 British Open.
U.S. skipper Davis Love III is also planning to use five deputies at Hazeltine, Minnesota.
Love has already announced that Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk will be in his backroom team.
The 2016 Ryder Cup runs from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)