With the 2014 Ryder Cup now one year away, several European stars from last year's matches at Medinah have been mired in slumps for large portions of the 2013 season. According to European captain Paul McGinley, though, that's not a reason for concern at this early stage.
'This year we have a couple of guys who are flatlining, but things can change so quickly in golf,' McGinley explained during a Q & A to mark the one-year pre-anniversary of the matches at Gleneagles. 'There is a long way to go and I know I used to play better every second year when I knew Ryder Cup points were available.'
The list of struggling Europeans begins with Rory McIlroy, who started the year as the top-ranked player but has now slipped to No. 6 after missing the Tour Championship field last week. In addition to McIlroy, former world No. 1 Luke Donald and Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter rounded out the three players currently ranked in the top 25 who accrued the least world ranking points during the 2013 season.
'They haven't reached the heights that they have in previous years in terms of winning majors, Rory being one example,' McGinley noted Tuesday morning during a press conference with U.S. captain Tom Watson. 'But that's OK, we understand ... that's just part and parcel of being a professional golfer.
'We haven't had the success we might have had at this time last year,' he added, 'but having said that, we've just produced the U.S. Open champion (Justin Rose) and now we've had the FedEx winner in Henrik Stenson.'
As for Stenson, now up to No. 4 in the rankings after his win in Atlanta, McGinley explained that the Swede is '85 percent' of the way to already accruing the necessary points to make next year's squad.
'At the start of the year the hot word on tour from the caddies was that Henrik was playing great, even though his performances were not quite showing that,' said McGinley. 'Sure enough, the caddies were proved to be right.'