Amer­i­cans con­fi­dent

> They look bet­ter on pa­per and are wast­ing lit­tle time in pro­vok­ing Euro­pean ri­vals ahead of Ry­der Cup, the grip­ping cross-At­lantic bi-an­nual golf event Europe has dom­i­nated for over two decades now.

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

THE AMER­I­CANS have wasted no time in mak­ing an al­ways en­gross­ing Ry­der Cup more in­trigu­ing. The Euro­peans al­ready need lit­tle mo­ti­va­tion for golf’s grip­ping cross-At­lantic com­pe­ti­tion, hav­ing won the bi­en­nial event eight of the last 10 meet­ings – in­clud­ing three straight.

But the Amer­i­can team has de­cided to pro­vide its ri­val with ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion head­ing into Fri­day’s open­ing four­somes at Hazel­tine Na­tional.

“We don’t have to do any­thing su­per­hu­man. We’re a great golf team,” Amer­i­can cap­tain Davis Love III said. “This is the best golf team, maybe, ever as­sem­bled.”

With the likes of US Open cham­pion Dustin John­son, PGA Cham­pi­onship win­ner Jimmy Walker and two-time ma­jor win­ner Jordan Spi­eth, the Amer­i­cans look stronger on pa­per with Europe car­ry­ing six rook­ies in its 12-man team.

Con­fi­dence is high with home field ad­van­tage for the the 41st edi­tion. But the Amer­i­cans will be hum­bled if all of the re­cent procla­ma­tions come back to haunt them.

“I do be­lieve the Euro­peans have got, at least on pa­per, the worst team they’ve had in many years,” for­mer Bri­tish Open cham­pion Johnny Miller com­mented in the buildup.

“I think this is the year not only could the US win, they could win by like five points.”

Strength on pa­per has not al­ways trans­lated to vic­tory on the course.

Europe has dom­i­nated the com­pe­ti­tion for two decades now, in­clud­ing dur­ing Tiger Woods and Phil Mick­el­son’s prime years.

The Euro­peans al­ways tend to come to­gether bet­ter as a team than the Amer­i­cans, where balanc­ing in­di­vid­ual egos has al­ways been a prob­lem.

Love III was look­ing to ad­dress that by leav­ing No. 7-ranked Bubba Wat­son out of the team – in­stead choos­ing Ryan Moore as his last pick – with some be­liev­ing Wat­son’s per­son­al­ity would be a dis­trac­tion.

But a soli­tary fig­ure like Woods is in the team as a vice-cap­tain, a de­ci­sion that has many won­der­ing if the Amer­i­cans are ripe for im­plo­sion. “We want to win so badly that when we have a bad ses­sion, or we lose the mo­men­tum, we panic a lit­tle bit and start play­ing not to lose rather than play­ing to win,” Love III said.

“You need to stand up there, smash it down the mid­dle and take off walk­ing, and let­ting the other team know we are go­ing to dom­i­nate you.”

Love III cer­tainly sounds as if he has a game plan two years on from the Amer­i­cans’ 16-1/2 to 111/2 de­feat at Gle­nea­gles.

Mick­el­son was scathing of then-cap­tain Tom Wat­son in his crit­i­cism, say­ing the Amer­i­cans had no real game plan.

Mick­el­son, who is play­ing in his 11th Ry­der Cup, and J.B Holmes are the only Amer­i­cans to have been part of a suc­cess­ful Ry­der Cup week­end.

The US, which has two rook­ies in Moore and Brooks Koepka, last won at Val­halla in 2008.

While the Euro­peans have a num­ber of first­timers, they cer­tainly do not look like pushovers.

Olympic cham­pion Justin Rose and Bri­tish Open cham­pion Hen­rik Sten­son re­turn along­side vet­eran Ry­der Cup play­ers Ser­gio Gar­cia, Lee West­wood and Rory McIl­roy, who is fresh off Sun­day’s dra­matic come­back vic­tory at the Tour Cham­pi­onship to clinch the FedEx Cup. Only stal­wart Ian Poul­ter is miss­ing to a foot in­jury. “There are six rook­ies there, but with the tal­ent that they all pos­sess, I’ve got no wor­ries at all about the strength of that team go­ing to Amer­ica,” said Euro­pean cap­tain Dar­ren Clarke, who counts Masters cham­pion Danny Wil­lett as one of his new­com­ers. “It’s a team that’s go­ing to go there and do ev­ery­thing we pos­si­bly can to bring that tro­phy back home again.” The Euro­peans will need to draw on their team unity in what will cer­tainly be a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment, with pa­tri­o­tism run­ning high in the buildup to the na­tional elec­tions in Novem­ber. The Amer­i­can team will also be de­ter­mined to earn the vic­tory in mem­ory of all-time great Arnold Palmer, who died on Sun­day at the age of 87. – dpa Wat­son was among the fi­nal se­lec­tions for the last US cap­tain’s se­lec­tion that was given Sun­day to first-time Cup starter Ryan Moore hours af­ter he fin­ished sec­ond in a play­off to Rory McIl­roy at the Tour Cham­pi­onship.


Europe team cap­tain Dar­ren Clarke (left) and Team USA cap­tain Davis Love III pose with the Ry­der Cup.

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