Paper Games at Oakland Hills

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04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. -- Buy into this conceit at your own peril:
 
The Americans are the favorites to win the Ryder Cup. The latest edition begins Friday at Oakland Hills Country Club. And the Europeans want everybody in America, including U.S. captain Hal Sutton's players, to believe that the lads from across the pond don't even have a puncher's chance in this latest renewal of golf's heavyweight championship.
 
Swallow this load of corn whole and you may wind up choking on the kernels.
 
Is the American side better on paper? Sure. Four of the 12 American team members are ranked in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Only one of the Europeans can say the same.
 
European Ryder Cup TeamBut remember, the Ryder Cup is played on grass, not paper. And the Europeans have won or retained the coveted Cup six of the last nine times they've staged this thing.
 
Are the Americans better suited to the U.S. Open style golf course at Oakland Hills? Sure again. The last time a European won a U.S. Open Woods hadn't even been born.
 
'Definitely,' said EuroStar Sergio Garcia, moments after stepping off the team plane Monday at Detroit's Metro Airport. The question? Is his team the underdog.
 
'Always,' added EuroForce Darren Clarke.
 
'They're better than us, at least on paper (there's that paper thing again),' Garcia said. 'We know that to have a chance we need to give it our best shot.'
 
Flair has always become Garcia much better than modesty.
 
Adding injury to the insult is the stance taken by Scottish golf writer John Huggan. Writing a guest column in the Detroit News, Huggan opined: 'The relative callowness of their (Europe's) lineup will this time find them out come Sunday singles. America by six.'
 
What the Europeans never say publicly (almost never) is that they believe the American Tour pampers it players and fosters a lone wolf mentality that flies in the face of the chemistry needed for team golf.
 
Irishman Paul McGinley, who made the putt that clinched the Ryder Cup for his team two years ago in England, reportedly said this about that: 'The American Tour is a lonely tour. It's not the glamour tour it's made out to be. There's no (camaraderie) at night time. You come down in the morning, it's not unusual to see them sitting at different tables. I'd never sit on my own at breakfast.'
 
OK, so now we're getting to it. The Euros want us to believe they're the underdogs. But when it comes to bonding and bonhomie, deep down they believe they've got a big edge.
 
While this may not exactly be bulletin board stuff for the Americans, it gives pause.
 
But here's a flash for the Euros:
 
The Ryder Cup isn't won at breakfast any more than it's won on paper.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
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