Minnesota: Former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley expects the six rookies in this year’s team to draw on their international experience to thrive under pressure in next week’s match against the United States.
US Masters champion Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick, along with wildcard pick Thomas Pieters, will be making their Ryder Cup debuts when Europe defend the trophy in Minnesota. from October 1-3.
“The European team have six rookies heading to Hazeltine, but I don’t think that will be an issue or a concern,” McGinley, who led Europe to victory two years ago, told Sky Sports.
“They are all experienced players, they’ve all won big tournaments, and they have all performed on the big stage... They are young, vibrant and they will not be intimidated by the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup in the United States,” he added.
Captain Darren Clarke will be looking to guide Europe to an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory.
“They are part of a team and Darren will be making sure they don’t lose their focus,” McGinley said. “Don’t play the occasion, play the game of golf.”
World number three Rory McIlroy has had an inconsistent year but McGinley said the Northern Irishman’s win at this month’s Deutsche Bank Championship was a big boost for the European team.
“He [McIlroy] is Europe’s highest-ranked player and we all know how talented he is. Apart from winning the Irish Open, he’s had a quiet year particularly on the PGA Tour and in the major championships,” the 49-year-old said.
“But he addressed the problems he was having with his putting, hired a new coach and that was validated with his win in Boston,” McGinley added.
“It has given him a lot of confidence and I think we’ll see a buoyant and energised Rory McIlroy at the Ryder Cup.”
But will Will Paul Casey and Russell Knox’s absence be the key?
Casey has been the most consistent player on the continent while Knox has also shown strong form in America.
But neither player is in the continental line-up even though they, along with Rory McIlroy, are the only Europeans competing in the PGA Tour finale.
“Not being part of the Ryder Cup is a by-product of making that decision,” Casey said. “It was never part of that decision. I’m going to watch it with a sort of sadness that I can’t be part of that.”