With just over a year left until Europe and the United States rival each other once again for supremacy in the Ryder Cup, excitement and anticipation is already building ahead of the historic event in France.
However, even with 12 months to go Rory McIlroy has made a startling prediction about Europe's chances.
The 28-year-old believes Europe will be the ‘underdogs’, not just next year's Ryder Cup, but for the next decade, given the dynamic youth talent of their counterparts comprising of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed.
McIlroy was a part of the losing side in 2016 when the event took place in Hazeltine and he doesn't think home advantage will be enough to swing it in the hosts' favour.
“Europe are going to be up against it in France - and it’s not just going to be like that next year, but for the next ten years, because the guys on their team are so young, and so good," McIlroy said, as per The Sun.
“You have Jordan, JT, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, and Daniel Berger all in their twenties, and they are going to be the foundation of a really strong team for the foreseeable future.”
Although, he has not outright denounced the skills-set of the European squad, which also include him and he believes being in his prime years along with the others, mentioning Jon Rahm and Thomas Pieters, will indeed produce an enticing contest.
“What Jon has achieved in his rookies season is incredible. He is an absolute star.
“And of course I claimed Thomas as my partner for France after we paired up so well last time – unless he decides he has someone else in mind!
“We also have the likes of Matt Fitzpatrick playing well. We need those guys to keep progressing, because we are going to face a formidable challenge.”
McIlroy will be a key member of the team and he himself aims to be back to his best form and fitness in the coming months.
“I’m planning to play something like thirty events next year. I’m going to play everywhere,” he added, revealing plans to feature in the British Masters and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship before taking a break to recover from his rib injury.
The Northern Irishman also had his say on the conflicting calendars of the PGA and European tours and believes a 'World Tour' is the way forward.
He added: “The PGA Tour is already expanding, going to Asia and other places – the World Tour, it’s going to happen one day, and I think it has to happen.
“To have all these Tours competing against each other, and having to change dates, it’s counter-productive. I think everyone has to come together and say this is what we need to do."
“I think the easy thing would be for the PGA Tour to go out and buy the European Tour, and take it from there. They could say you still run the European events, and we’ll have say 12 big events a year, outside the Majors, a bit like they do in tennis.
“I just don’t see any other way. I know discussions have taken place, so maybe one day. I’m a player, and I will play anywhere.”
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