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Des Smyth & Peter Baker named Ryder Cup assistants

European Ryder Cup skipper Ian Woosnam has appointed close friends Peter Baker of Britain and Irishman Des Smyth as his vice-captains for next year's match against the United States.

Twice major winner Sandy Lyle and another Briton, David J. Russell, were named as assistants to the two vice-captains.

Woosnam made the announcements on Wednesday at a news conference in the build-up to this week's European Open at the K Club in Country Kildare, venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup.

"They are all good friends of mine and we'll make a nicely close-knit team," said Welshman Woosnam, the 1991 U.S. Masters champion and a veteran of eight Ryder Cups.

"I'll be more involved with Des and Peter. I'll be making decisions and asking their advice.

"Hopefully I'm picking two members who think like me and when we pick the team we'll be working all together."

Baker, 37, played in the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry where he won three points out of four, two of them in partnership with Woosnam in the fourballs.

A three-times winner on the European Tour, the Englishman eagled the 18th hole twice on the last day to hold off the challenge of Nick Faldo and clinch the 1988 Benson and Hedges International Open in a playoff.

Smyth, 52, appeared on two Ryder Cup teams and became the oldest winner on the European Tour when he clinched the 2001 Madeira Island Open aged 48 years and 34 days.

The Irishman now plays on the seniors Champions Tour in the U.S. where he won his first title at the SBC Classic in March.

"I've known Des since he first came on tour in 1976," added Woosnam. "He's going to play a very special part in my team.

"As well as being Irish, he's also playing really well on the American seniors tour at the moment.

"Peter is also a close friend of mine, has been for years, and will be a valuable member of the team.

"He has a great sense of humour and, as we all know, each European Ryder Cup team has a togetherness allied to fun which is so important in bonding team spirit."

The 47-year-old Lyle, overlooked as European captain for the next two matches when twin appointments were made for the first time in March, has played in five Ryder Cups.

One of the most gifted strikers of the ball in golf history, the Briton won the 1985 British Open and the 1988 U.S. Masters.

"We've not been so close for the last 20 years or so, Sandy living in Scotland and then in America, so I've been very much closer to Peter Baker," said Woosnam.

"But I feel that Sandy has missed out on a lot and that he's got to be part of my team. He's been a great player in his time and he's got a wealth of experience."

The 51-year-old Russell, widely known as DJ, is one of the most popular figures in European golf. Twice a winner on the European Tour, he now plays on the European Seniors Tour.

The 36th Ryder Cup will be played from September 22-24, 2006.

Europe have dominated the biennial tournament in recent years, winning four of the last five matches, including a crushing 18-1/2 to 9-1/2 victory last September, the worst defeat inflicted upon the U.S. in Ryder Cup history.

 

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