CHASKA — A US Ryder Cup team more relaxed and better prepared than past losing versions takes a confident attitude into this week’s showdown against holders Europe, which happily accepts its routine underdog role.
Europeans have won three in a row, six of seven and eight of the past 10 over the Americans entering Friday’s start of the biennial team golf matches at Hazeltine.
"We’re just tired of being told we haven’t won one in a while," two-time Major winner Jordan Spieth said. "We want this one.
We feel very comfortable this year with the team we have and very confident as well."
Spieth recalled the tension of the US losing his 2014 debut at Gleneagles. "I don’t know why the Europeans have a better record," he said. "I think they have felt more relaxed going in. I’ve only been part of one. Our experience over there was pretty tense and this one feels a bit different. So, we’re confident about that."
US captain Davis Love had the same job in 2012 when the Americans suffered the biggest last-day collapse in Ryder Cup history to fall. But Love has learned and a task force instituted after the dysfunctional 2014 failure has led to meticulous planning.
"We have a fresher attitude and I’ve got a better support team around me," Love said. "We’ve been working hard on a game plan and preparation. We’re just a little bit more prepared this time than we were in 2012."
Love said he was better able to cope with any situation than he was in 2012, when Europe built momentum in last-day singles while the US team struggled to the finish.
"We’ve all got more miles under our belt and can handle really any situation better than probably we could in 2012," Love said.
"If we get four ahead or two behind, we’ve got it a little more figured out than we did in 2012."
Europe captain Darren Clarke likes the course set-up handled by Love. "The course is set up for scoring. It’s set up for entertainment, to make birdies and have the whole excitement of the Ryder Cup be the way it should be."
Part of that normal state of things is odds makers making Europe unfancied at best and woeful underdogs at worst.
"We’re always the underdogs aren’t we?" Clarke said. "We’re always not supposed to win. But they have been doing OK.… The odds are frequently against Europe. So, it’s nothing different. I’m certainly not worried about it."
Even Clarke had to laugh when asked whether Europe, which was once only Britain and Ireland until the roster was expanded to all of Europe starting in 1979, should allow the US squad to add Mexican and Canadian players for a North American team should Europe win an unprecedented fourth consecutive time.
"Let’s just see how this week works out first," Clarke said.