Team Europe vice-captain Padraig Harrington has told GiveMeSport that Team USA might be the strongest they have ever been at this year’s Ryder Cup.
The Americans have arrived at Gleneagles without former world number one Tiger Woods, and the hosts have been made pre-tournament favourites with bookmakers and pundits alike ahead of the 40th instalment of the famous competition.
However, Harrington, a three-time Major winner, believes the mix of youth and experience in Tom Watson’s side could be a dangerous formula for the visitors, who lost the trophy in incredible fashion two years ago.
"Obviously the result on Sunday in Medinah was a shock to Team USA and the memory of it will be in both team’s minds heading in to Gleneagles. But, I think Europe have to just focus on the task ahead of them,” Harrington told GiveMeSport ahead of the big tee-off on Friday.
"I think that the US might be better than they have ever been and I'd be wary of them coming out with a point to prove.They are seemingly loving being the underdogs, which is situation that Team Europe have typically enjoyed in recent years.”
That underdog tag has been emphasised further with the pairing of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth among the opening fourballs, They will meet the talismanic Ian Poulter and another debutant, Stephen Gallacher, in the third match off.
Veteran Phil Mickleson anchors the side with Keegan Bradley, and their clash with Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia is the one people will be waiting for on the opening day.
Rickie Fowler impressed on his debut two years ago and he plays in the second match alongside Jimmy Walker, whilst the opening pair for USA sees Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson reprise their partnership.
Harrington can certainly see the advantage of having younger players sprinkled throughout a side ahead of the rigours of five possible rounds in three days, and the Irishman is sure that they’ll be relishing the challenge ahead of them.
Benefits of youth
"Playing in the Ryder Cup at only 25-years-old would be a dream come true and I sometimes wonder how these young guys play so well week-in-week-out,” he concluded before the fourballs announcement.
"I played in my first Ryder Cup at the age of 28, so for Rickie (Fowler) to be playing his second already is very impressive. The Ryder Cup can be tough physically because you can play up to five rounds in three days, so being younger can be a huge advantage in that sense, but on the other hand experience is worth a lot.”
The talking is almost over and the action is about to begin, and you can follow Padraig Harrington on Facebook HERE
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