By Thomas Dodd
- Five reasons European team will retain the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National this weekend
- Europe, captained in 2016 by Darren Clarke, have lost just one of the last eight competitions
- Last United States victory was at Valhalla in 2008
MINNESOTA, USA – As Team Europe prepare to retain the Ryder Cup, we ponder five reasons why they will deny the hosts on home soil.
1) Recent history
An easy starter for ten. Europe’s form has been scintillating since the turn of the century, to the point where they have only lost once since the year 2000. A comfortable win at the Belfry in 2002 was followed by an even more impressive thrashing of the US at Oakland Hills two years later.
An emotional victory rallying around recently widowed 2016 Captain Darren Clarke at the K Club in 2006 was next before the only blip on the horizon in 2008 at Valhalla. Monty’s Men regained the trophy in Wales before the Miracle at Medinah the last time the cup was played out in America. Gleneagles two years ago was never really even a contest.
Colin Montgomerie once said when America play for the Ryder Cup they play for their country, but when Europe play for the Ryder Cup they play for each other. European team togetherness has been on show for all to see in recent years, whether it was the spirit of Seve in 2012 or Monty and McGinley’s squad bonding of 2010 and 2014. The nationalities may differ, but those in yellow and blue know how to unite and chase a common goal.
3) Rory McIlroy
The player with the biggest spring in his step heading to Hazeltine, McIlroy will strike fear into the mind of any member of the US side. His come from behind win last weekend at the TOUR Championship proved he’s still the man for the big occasion and the young man from Hollywood, Northern Ireland, will no doubt be in the thick of the drama for the entirety of the three days. Will also be an excellent role model and leader for the rookies.
4) The Pairings
Captain Clarke has an abundance of talent in his team and will find pairing his dozen rookies up throughout the course of the week a breeze. With perfect fits like Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose and Lee Westwood and Danny Willett the only real conundrum could be the other four first timers at Hazeltine. But with experienced heads like Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer to choose from, those in unfamiliar territory will be well looked after.
An area where both sides have perhaps never been stronger to help aid their men on the course in the locker room. Europe’s armoury comes in the form of five men who know their way around a successful Ryder Cup week.
Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington have been around the block, part of winning and losing teams and will know how to deal with the ups and downs.
The same could be said for Paul Lawrie, who played in the unpleasant melting pot of Brookline in 1999.
In Sam Torrance, Europe have a former winning captain who understands how to get the job done. That just leaves Ian Poulter, Europe’s postman, who knows better than anyone else how to win a point from a Ryder Cup match.
All five will bring different strains of advice to the locker room that those inside the ropes will do well to heed throughout the three days.
The Ryder Cup tees off on Friday 30 September at 7:35am (1:35pm BST).
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