Ryder Cup 2021: US dissent can only help Europe, says Tony Jacklin

Ryder Cup legend Tony Jacklin believes Brooks Koepka is lucky to have retained his place on the US team at Whistling Straits and reckons Steve Stricker will need to watch his back if the Europeans spoil his dream week in Wisconsin.

Koepka has already been criticised by two winning captains, Paul Azinger and Ian Woosnam, after making comments about how he found the Ryder Cup "tough, hectic and a bit odd".

The remarks have come on the back of the four-time major winner being involved in a simmering feud this year with team-mate Bryson DeChambeau and Jacklin has also now hit out at Koepka ahead of the 43rd edition starting on Friday.

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“Well, let me put it this way. I would much rather be in the European team room than I would in the American team room (laughing),” the four-time captain, including two wins and a draw, told The Scotsman in an exclusive interview. “The last thing you want is any sort of dissent in the room. You’ve all got to be on the same page.

Tony Jacklin has shared his rich Ryder Cup memories in a new autobiography, Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey, co-authored by Tony Jimenez.

“I saw that Paul Azinger has been quoted over here (in the US) and Paul is a dear friend and he was a hell of a Ryder Cup player and he was a hell of a captain.

“He’s gone into print saying that Koepka, who purportedly says he’s not that excited about the Ryder Cup, should relinquish his spot and let somebody who is more patriotic about it take his place and I would agree with that sentiment personally.

“But we (the Europeans) don’t have to deal with that. In many respects, that’s to Padraig Harrington’s advantage if there is a little bit of dissent.”

Stricker, who is captaining the US for the first time in this event in his home state, has Phil Micklelson as one of his vice-captains after he missed out as a player for the first time since 1993.

Tony Jacklin with Colin Montgomerie during the 2016 Ryder Cup Captains Matches at Hazeltine. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

“Phil’s a hell of a guy, but he’s outspoken as well,” said Jacklin, who has shared his rich Ryder Cup memories in a new autobiography, Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey, co-authored by Tony Jimenez.

“We saw what happened a few years ago with his critique of Tom Watson’s captaincy and his partnerships with Tiger [Woods] early on. They weren’t that….

“The Ryder Cup is more than about having a big name. It’s about being able to be part of a team. It’s the team that wins and we’ve always been blessed with tremendous team unity.

“I can’t think of a team over the last 40 years that we didn’t have great team unity. There’s a will within the European team to get this thing done.

“Proof of the pudding for me was in 1989, when the big names - Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam - didn’t get it down on the final day.

“It was the journeymen - the Ronan Raffertys, the Christy O’Connor jnrs - that pulled off and showed the confidence they had.”

* Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey, published by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie, is available online with Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith and other leading outlets.

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