Ryder Cup preview: Europe, US go head to head
SERGIO Garcia and Rory McIlroy fired up European passions this week at the Ryder Cup, taking exception to US captain Davis Love’s contention that his Americans might be the best team ever.
“At the end of the day, you don’t win Ryder Cups with your mouth,” Garcia said. “You win them out there on the golf course and that’s where we’ll see which team is the best.”
European teams have won three consecutive Ryder Cups, seeking an unprecedented fourth in a row this week at Hazeltine, while the Americans have lost six of the past seven and eight of 10.
But Love felt confident enough in his roster on September 23 to tell a golf radio interviewer, “We’re a great team. This is maybe the best golf team ever assembled.”
Love said his words were “misconstrued”, that he only said that was what he would say to motivate his team, but then wouldn’t say what he would tell his team tomorrow.
His earlier words added inspiration for a Europe side not lacking for it already.
“They are pretty much motivating factors,” Garcia said. “You know what they say opinions are like – we all have one. Everybody is allowed to have their own opinions. That’s what they think. We know what we have.”
World number three McIlroy, Europe’s top-ranked player, is coming off a victory at the US PGA’s season-ending Tour Championship. It brought US$1.5 million plus a $10 million season points bonus he swiped from the pocket of US Cup rival Dustin Johnson, the US Open champion ranked second in the world.
McIlroy tossed his own barbs at the US notion of Ryder Cup supremacy before tomorrow’s opening tee shots.
“I’ve followed everything and I’ve had a bit of fun with it, the task force and greatest team ever assembled and whatever else they are talking about,” McIlroy said.
“Whenever we are going up against one of the greatest teams ever assembled, that’s motivation enough. How good a victory would this be if we go out and beat these guys on home soil?”
Europe ‘more than ready’
The Americans have four of the world’s top 10 in Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler, and all 12 players are ranked in the world’s top 31.
While Europe counters with five of the world’s top 12, including Garcia in 12th, half the European squad is ranked below Ryan Moore, the captain’s pick who is the lowest-ranked US player.
McIlroy noted that in terms of worldwide victories this year, Europe players have taken 12 to nine by the Americans, the majors split even at two for each roster.
“So our team is good. Our team is more than ready to handle the occasion, to handle what we need to do,” McIlroy said.
“I don’t think it’s hard for us to find motivation. Whether it be the sea of red [US supporters] you see on the golf course or comments made by the US team or captain, that gives us so much motivation already.”
Champs aplenty for Europe Clarke was subtle in his dismissing the notion of a US superteam, pointing out the successes of his own talent this year.
“The guys have seen everything that has been said,” Clarke said. “But we have the Masters champion [England’s Danny Willett], the Open champion [Swede Henrik Stenson], the Olympic champion [England’s Justin Rose] and the [US playoff] champion [McIlroy].
“Combine that will all the experience and with the rest of the team and the way those guys have played, I don’t really need to respond to that. I’ve got full confidence in our team.”
England’s Andy Sullivan, the lowest ranked player in the event at 50th and one of six Ryder Cup newcomers for Europe, was willing to grant the hosts an edge on paper but warned Europe has a tough history when unfancied.
“On paper they are an unbelievable side,” Sullivan said. “You look at it for most years and Europe go in as the underdogs. As the recent years have shown they have done pretty well out of it. Hopefully that’s a common theme and we get the job done this year.”
Sergio Garcia (bottom left), the captain of Europe’s Ryder Cup team, fired back at US captain Davis Love for comments he made last week. The two face off this weekend at Hazeltine Golf Club in Minnesota.
Davis Love (centre), the US captain, collected a team that includes five of the top 10 golfers in the world.