European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn has named Sweden’s Robert Karlsson as his first vice captain for the 2018 contest against the United States at Le Golf National in France.
Karlsson twice represented Europe in The Ryder Cup, first as part of the record-breaking winning team in 2006 at The K Club, in Ireland, and then at Valhalla, Kentucky in 2008, when he defeated Justin Leonard 5&3 in the singles. Later that year he won the Harry Vardon Trophy as the European Tour’s Number One player, becoming the first Swedish player to achieve the honour, while he also won the World Cup of Golf alongside Henrik Stenson.
The 47 year old is Bjørn’s first appointment as part of his backroom team and he will bring a wealth of experience on the European Tour, having made more than 560 appearances, winning 11 titles during a career that has spanned 28 years. He has also finished inside the top ten in all four of golf’s Major Championships.
Bjørn, who made the announcement on the eve of the Nordea Masters at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club in Karlsson’s native Sweden, said: “It gives me great pleasure to announce Robert Karlsson as my first Vice Captain for The 2018 Ryder Cup. I know from all the Ryder Cups I have been involved in, both as a player and vice-captain, is it vital to have people around that you trust implicitly and Robert most definitely fits into that category.
“He has been one of my closest friends on Tour for many years and, not only that, he is immensely respected by all the players, both his peers and the younger guys now emerging. His playing credentials are impressive, having been a former European Number One, and he also knows the unique atmosphere of The Ryder Cup, having represented Europe both home and away.
“Robert will be a vital foil for me over the next 16 months in all aspects of our preparation, including helping analyse statistical information on players, and I know he will give me his honest opinion on everything I ask. I am delighted to have him as part of the team.”
Karlsson said: “To get the call from Thomas was very special and I’m really looking forward to being part of The Ryder Cup again. It is a great honour to be a vice captain and I’m very much looking forward to the next 16 months.
“I’ve played in two Ryder Cups so I have the experience of what the players will face and also have a lot of experience on the European Tour. I know the players well and I know Thomas very well too, and I will be there to do whatever he needs me to do.”
The qualification campaign for the 2018 European Team gets underway at the D+D Real Czech Masters from August 31-September 3, 2017. The contest itself will be played at Le Golf National, France, from September 28-30, 2018, when Europe will try to regain the Ryder Cup following defeat at Hazeltine National last year and extend an impressive winning record on home soil which stretches back to Valderrama in 1997.