Home captain Love said in an interview last week ahead of the event’s 41st staging at Hazeltine that “this is the best golf team, maybe, ever assembled” while TV pundit Miller described the European line-up as the “worst they’ve had in many years, at least on paper”.
“Yeah, they are pretty much motivating factors,” said Garcia of the comments. “Everybody has opinions and Johnny says a lot of things. But we know what we have and that’s the most important thing for us. At the end of the day, you don’t win Ryder Cups with your mouth. You win it out there on the golf course. That’s when we’ll see which team is the best.”
Also speaking on the first official practice day in Minnesota, McIlroy admitted: “I don’t think it’s hard for us to find motivation because anywhere you look, whether it be the sea of red you see on the golf course or the comments that are made in the media by the US team or by the captain, that gives us so much motivation already.
“Whenever we are going against one of the greatest teams ever assembled, that’s motivation enough. How good a victory would this be if we go out and beat these guys on their home soil? If you look at worldwide wins this year Europe have 12, America have nine. So our team is good. Our team is more than ready to handle the occasion.”
European captain Clarke said his players were all aware of the comments. “I don’t need to use that [as motivation] as the guys have all seen everything that’s been said,” he remarked.
“But, in terms of that, we have the Masters champion [Danny Willett], we have the Open champion [Henrik Stenson], we have the Olympic champion [Justin Rose] and we have the FedEx champion [McIlroy]. You combine that with all the experience [Lee Westwood is playing in his 10th successive Ryder Cup] and I don’t really need to respond to any
As well as insisting the American players “believed” Love’s statement, Jordan Spieth said he had already detected a better vibe in the home team room than on his debut in the event at Gleneagles two years ago, when Tom Watson was
publicly criticised by Phil Mickelson after a 16½-11½ defeat.
“Our experience over there was pretty tense and this one feels a bit different, so we’re confident about that,” said the two-time major winner. “Whatever it may be, I feel just a little more calm personally and it seems like that in the team room as well.”