EURO RYDER CUP ROOKIES CAN SHINE AT HAZELTINE
Former captain McGinley backs six European newcomers to excel against USA at Hazeltine
Paul McGinley has tipped Europe’s six Ryder Cup rookies to thrive at Hazeltine next week as Darren Clarke’s side go in search of a unprecedented fourth consecutive victory.
Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello qualified automatically alongside the English quartet of Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett, Chris Wood and Matt Fitzpatrick (right), with Clarke then selecting Thomas Pieters as one of his three wildcards.
All six have shone throughout the year, with Willett winning his maiden major at The Masters, while Wood won the European Tour’s flagship event – the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
And McGinley believes that even though half of Europe’s team are first- timers, Europe have a strong chance of success in America. “The European team have six rookies heading to Hazeltine, but I don’t think that will be an issue or a concern,” said McGinley. “The term ‘rookie’ is one that I’m not comfortable with these days. “They are all experienced players, they’ve all won big tournaments, and they have all performed on the big stage – most notably Danny Willett winning the Masters earlier this year. “Darren’s team is also in great form. They are young, vibrant and they will not be intimidated by the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup in the United States.
“They are part of a team and Darren will be making sure they don’t lose their focus. Don’t play the occasion, play the game of golf.”
McGinley, who captained the European team to success two years ago at Gleneagles, also feels that it is Clarke’s players who will arrive in America in the better form.
“Most of the American players have a higher world ranking, they are playing at home and they have only one rookie in their team, at the moment,” he added.
“But Europe have a nice blend of youth and experience and – most importantly – a lot of form.
“You look at the rookies, and then there’s Rory, Henrik, or Justin winning Olympic gold – you look at that European team and all you can see is good form, particularly over the last couple of months. That’s a great place to be going into a Ryder Cup.”
HEADING TO HAZELTINE: Andy Sullivan is one of six new faces in Europe’s Ryder Cup team