SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Let the mind games begin.
Never mind that Europe has won eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups and will sport a team later this fall that includes two of this season’s three major champions, the Continent’s captain made it clear on Wednesday at Baltusrol that the United States are the team to beat.
“You have to be the favorite, the Americans. You've had a task force. You've done everything that you've done, and rightly so,” Darren Clarke said. “Davis [Love III] has gone to great lengths to try and find a winning formula.”
Clarke went on to explain that his current team includes five rookies, including Masters champion Danny Willett, compared to just one first-timer currently qualified for the U.S. team. The American side will also enjoy a home field advantage with this year’s matches at Hazeltine.
“At the moment, with the teams as we stand right now at the moment, you'd have to say America would be favorites,” Clarke said. “But that's always if you're going to look off World Rankings, etc., invariably, that's the case.”
Actually, that’s not entirely the case. Of the top 10 current players on the European team five rank inside the top 10 in the World Ranking, compared to just four for the U.S. side.
It’s a recurring debate heading into the matches every two years, with both teams vying for the slightest competitive advantage and the chance to frame their side as an underdog.
“They always say that [the U.S. team is the favorite],” Love laughed on Tuesday.