Rook­ies can cope with the pres­sure

Clarke backs new­com­ers to im­press

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT -

When the 41st edi­tion of the Ryder Cup gets un­der way on Fri­day at Hazel­tine there will be a dif­fer­ent kind of pres­sure for both sides. The US team are seen as favourites and must han­dle the weight of ex­pec­ta­tion in front of a pas­sion­ate home crowd in Min­nesota. While for Europe, the 12 play­ers do not want to be the first side to lose a Ryder Cup af­ter three con­sec­u­tive tri­umphs. Dar­ren Clarke’s side also in­cludes six rook­ies who will be de­ter­mined not to let down their Euro­pean coun­ter­parts. And while the Amer­i­cans may see that as an ad­van­tage in try­ing to re­gain the tro­phy, Clarke in­sists his new boys have earned their place on merit and can help Europe con­tinue their dom­i­na­tion of the event. “It’s un­ques­tion­able that it’s go­ing to be a very, very big task ahead of us,” said Clarke. “Davis’ team is also shap­ing up very, very strongly. But with this team, those guys have earned their right to be on the team. They have em­braced the chal­lenge. They have got on there and they are world-class play­ers in their own right. With adding Thomas Pi­eters [in­set] to that list, 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.

“I’m proud of that team. It’s a team that’s go­ing to go there and do ev­ery­thing we pos­si­bly can to bring that tro­phy back home again.”

While Clarke has spo­ken of the im­mense chal­lenge that lies ahead for his team, his Amer­i­can coun­ter­part, Davis Love III, has been talk­ing up the tal­ent of his dozen. He claims it is the “best team ever as­sem­bled” and told his play­ers that they are the ones that must go out there and per­form.

“If we don’t win, if Europe doesn’t win, Dar­ren and I are go­ing to have a lot of ex­plain­ing to do,” said Love. “That’s part of it. But we’re used to the pres­sure. We’re used to wins and losses.

“One thing [the sport psy­chol­o­gist] Bob Rotella told me: if you’re go­ing to base your hap­pi­ness on win­ning and los­ing, golf is not a good sport to be in be­cause you’re go­ing to lose a lot.

“We en­joy the chal­lenge and we love be­ing on the stage and you’ve got to take the wins with the losses.”

Time will tell which group of play­ers man­ages to cope with the pres­sure. But for the now the mind games will con­tinue un­til that open­ing tee-shot on Fri­day.

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