Paul McGinley has made it clear his European team won’t be underestimating the USA heading into this year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. There has been plenty of criticism aimed at Tom Watson and his US team in the run-up to the biennial tournament, from the players in the team, the choice of wild cards and the lack of form of some key players. All of this will see Europe start the event as the firm betting favourites but despite the US team being written off by critics in some quarters, McGinley has insisted he and his 12-man line-up are expecting a strong and focused US team to arrive in Scotland for this Ryder Cup.
Europe produced one of the tournament’s most dramatic comebacks two years ago to snatch the trophy from American hands at Medinah, with many of that team in the European line-up at Gleneagles. The US team has undergone a number of changes from two years ago, most notably the omission of Tiger Woods. But that hasn’t been the most contentious part of the selection process for US captain Watson, with Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel both missing out after Watson selected his three wildcards before the Deutsche Bank Championships and the FedEx Cup play-offs – which Kirk and Horschel won respectively – with Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan named as wildcards despite all struggling with form.
The Irishman is preparing to captain for the first time in the famous tournament, but there has been a marked difference in the pressures surrounding McGinley and his Europe team compared to Watson and the US side. McGinley, a player in three Ryder Cups, has played down the theory all Europe have to do to win is turn up, making it known his team members are fully focused and expected a strong challenge from the US team.
“I think we’ve got a slightly different threat from America than we’ve had in the past as they really feel like they’re underdogs and they’re up against it. We will not be underestimating America. We will be absolutely ready for this. I’m under no illusions whatsoever, neither are the players. I’ve spoken to them all and we’re all really gung-ho and ready for this. We’re very motivated.
“We know it’s going to be a very strong American team, we know it’s going to be a very strongly motivated team, and a strongly-led American team. This is going to be very, very difficult to win this Ryder Cup.”