Golf

Europeans aim to make experience count at Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup defending champions shown inspirational video which reminds them that they are a rare breed

The European Ryder Cup squad facing the United States this week at Whistling Straits were given a reminder of the select company they are in by way of an inspirational video shown to them.

The video shared on social media points out that 164 men have represented Team Europe in Ryder Cup play while 5,780 people have climbed Mount Everest, 570 have been to space, 445 have won football's World Cup and 225 have claimed golf Majors.

"I've always known that being a part of the Ryder Cup team is very difficult, but I didn't know that only that little amount of players have made it," said 41-year-old Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

"So that showed you how difficult it really is. That's why every time I'm a part of a team or the rest of our teammates, that's why we give it the respect that it deserves, because it's so difficult to be a part of it."

The opening line of the video states, "In life, the joy of numbers is that they always amount to something" and goes on to include several former players reciting the number of where they fit in Team Europe's historical timeline.

"It's a small collection of people that have played for Europe in the Ryder Cup," said Rory McIlroy, the 32-year-old Northern Irishman who made his Ryder Cup debut in 2010.

"That's what brings us very close together and that's been one of our sort of big focus points this week - just being here is very special and being part of a European team. Very few people can call themselves a European Ryder Cup player."

The video was shown to the 12-member European team on Monday by captain Padraig Harrington in a bid to put in context the rarity of taking part in the event.

Stitched on the golf bags belonging to the European players competing this week is a number unique to them, signifying where they fit on the historical timeline.

"You have a far greater chance of going into space or climbing Mount Everest than you have (of) representing Europe in the Ryder Cup," said Lee Westwood, who will tie Nick Faldo's Team Europe record when he makes his 11th Ryder Cup start.

"We've all got numbers. Mine is the smallest number (on this team), obviously, 118. But yeah, it's something to be very proud of, being able to pull on the clothing with the European team crest on it," added the Englishman.

Together with 45-year-old Ian Poulter and 44-year-old Paul Casey, Westwood, 48, and Garcia comprise the largest over-40 European Ryder Cup group since there were five in 1961.

The United States' three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth warned that Europe's veterans are the dangermen.

Garcia was 14th at the Tour Championship and sixth at the BMW Championship last month to end a solid US PGA Tour campaign while Westwood had back-to-back runner-up efforts at Bay Hill and the Players Championship in March.

"The fact they both have been playing the calibre of golf they've been playing this year to make this team with the experience they have makes them very dangerous," Spieth said.

"I mean, you step on the first tee and you know you're going to play two of the best players in the world."

Westwood will be the oldest player to represent Europe since Christy O'Connor Sr. in 1973.

European teams have won nine of the past 12 Ryder Cups, thrashing the United States 17½-10½ in France in 2018.

That includes three of the past six held on US soil.

But they will be up against a US team that features eight of the world's top 10 players - the highest number for either team since the inception of the world rankings in 1986. - AFP, REUTERS

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