Who Wants it More

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SUTTON COLDFIELD, England ' Jim Furyk stepped into the interview room, sat down and waited. Questions were fired, and Furyk answered, but still he waited. He waited for that one question. And then it came.
 
The perception is that the European side is more passionate about winning the Ryder Cup. Is that a misperception or?
 
The words were hanging on the questioners lips when Furyk shot back.
 
That was pretty good because I was expecting this question first, Furyk said. We must be getting better as a team because now its the 10th question.
 
A couple of years ago I had to stand up in the pressroom at the Presidents Cup and basically get angry so theyd quit drilling us ' it was about the third or fourth question in a row about how were (the U.S.) not a team, and dont get along.
 
I can speak for myself, I can speak for the team, were all very passionate about the sport we play, the game we play, and about representing our country this week.
 
Furyk wasnt alone in answering the passionate question - he was just the most reverent in his answer ' aside from maybe Lee Westwood, who found the question ludicrous at best.
 
I honestly dont know how to answer this question because I think its a load of crap. I think they look forward to every minute of the Ryder Cup. The two Ryder Cups Ive played in, you can see the emotions in their faces, Westwood said.
 
If anybody says it doesnt mean anything to them, theyre talking out of their a------, excuse my French.
 
As Furyk emotionally expressed, this question is nothing new. When the Americans were winning the Ryder Cup, their passion was never in doubt. But losses in 1995 and 97 to underdog European teams, plus a near disgraceful performance in the 98 Presidents Cup, led many to question the Americans desire ' their passion for playing team events.
 
There is no 'I' in team, but there is a ME.
 
The U.S. players have been blasted in the past for their individualism. While European players have seemingly come from all areas of the continent to form a cohesive unit, the Americans are viewed as 12 cogs that have a hard time running in unison.
 
Recent flaps havent skewed that view either.
Prior to the 1999 Matches, many of the U.S. players, including Tiger Woods and David Duval, were crucified in the media and public after their comments concerning players getting compensated to play in the Ryder Cup.
 
The issue was resolved in the form of charitable contributions, but by then the damage had been done. U.S. players were sketched as spoiled, money-hungry millionaires who wouldnt offer their services for free ' even for their country.
 
Woods sparked that flame again last week when he said hed rather win the $1 million first-place prize at the World Golf Championships-American Express Championship than the Ryder Cup. He clarified his comments this week, saying he was trying to be funny, but again the original statement still lingered.
 
What also hasnt helped the Americans cause is the fact that they are notoriously slow starters ' a team who struggles in the team formats, but stars in the singles.
 
Since 1983, the U.S. has led only one time going into the Sunday singles matches. And only twice in that span have the Europeans beaten their counterparts in one-on-one.
 
Assessment: Europeans=Team, Americans=Individuals.
 
That was evident in 1999, when the Americans trailed, 10-6, going into the final day, but rallied, winning 8 of the possible 12 points on Sunday to steal back the Cup.
 
Weve been criticized a lot in the past as a team and Im not quite sure what that stems from, other than weve lost a few times, said Furyk. I didnt hear about how poor of a team we were after Brookline, and how we played on Sunday. I heard about how we gelled on Sunday, whatever that means.
 
(U.S. captain) Curtis (Strange) sort of mentioned something about that and we talked about 99 and it was like, 'How could we be four points down? How could we get that far behind?' said Mark Calcavecchia, a four-time Ryder Cupper.
 
He just thinks that coming out of the box, the Europeans have been more into it, more passionate, more ready to play.
 
Perhaps thats due to pride. No matter the previous result, the U.S. is always seen as the paper champion and overwhelming favorite.
 
I think in the past they might have been a little more passionate because back before they had expanded it to the whole continent of Europe. I dont think they were getting the best players and they wanted to prove something, Woods said.
 
Now, you know, thats different, now that the fields are deeper on both sides. So I think that whole theory is thrown out the door. This generation of players doesnt have that same outlook that the past generation did, but nevertheless, theyre still very passionate about the Ryder Cup, and we are as well.
 
One might think that because the Americans are always favored to win that the pressure would be on their shoulders. Not so says Paul Azinger. And from that pressure, passion is derived.
 
The team that has the pressure on them seems to respond in the next series of matches, Azinger noted while doing TV commentary during the 1995 Cup. If Europe got waxed in the morning, they came back in the afternoon and played well. And it was visa-versa.
 
It just seems to be the way it is ' the more pressure is on, the better the team plays.
 
I think that the passion probably is very visibly on their side right now. Were not showing that same kind of passion, although we are very motivated in the back of our minds.
 
Whether the Europeans display more passion than the Americans is debatable. But what is not, is that the U.S wants to win these Matches just as much as their rivals.
 
I think both the teams are equal in passion, said five-time member Davis Love III. But nobody wants to win more than our team, and I think its about equal.
 
Said Furyk: In my mind, theres no way that theyre more passionate about this event than we are, and Im not saying that were more passionate than them, but we have 12 good players on each side that are playing for a lot of pride this week.
 
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches