Team Europe bank on home support in Ryder Cup tussle with US heavyweights
Captain Luke Donald says the energy of the Rome crowd can be a decisive factor in reclaiming the trophy this week
Rome — Europe suffered their worst Ryder Cup defeat two years ago at a hostile Whistling Straits but captain Luke Donald believes the energy of the home crowd in Rome can be a decisive factor in reclaiming the trophy this week.
Former world No 1 Donald was one of Padraig Harrington’s vice-captains in 2021 as the US romped to a 19-9 victory in a match sadly lacking European fans because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year’s edition will feel and sound a lot more like it for Donald’s Dozen with thousands of fans from across the continent descending on Rome’s Marco Simone course.
Many Americans will make the trip too, but home advantage will definitely favour Europe as they look to continue their domination on home soil.
“In the end, we didn’t perform at the level we needed to perform at,” England’s Donald said of the one-sided contest two years ago as he addressed the media.
“The Americans were strong and they played how they know they can play.
“Certainly, being at home, we know that’s an advantage. We know it’s an advantage when you’re in the US.
“Having that support, that crowd behind you, it picks up your energy as a player and you feed off it.
“We are looking forward to having a lot more support this time around because it was lacking a lot because of Covid-19 two years ago.”
US captain Zach Johnson is attempting to mastermind the first US victory on European soil since a 15-13 triumph at The Belfry 30 years ago.
Since then Europe have enjoyed some notable victories in the US, including a rout at Oakland Hills in 2004 and the “Miracle of Medinah” in 2012, but the Americans have struggled to turn their rankings superiority into enough points to break their away jinx.
“It’s difficult. It’s hard to win outside your comfort zone.
“It’s hard to win against a team that’s always been very formidable. It’s that simple,” said Johnson, who featured in three US sides to lose in Europe.
“But at the same time I can speak confidently, and talking to my team, these guys are ready and want to embrace that difficulty and want to just look at this as a great opportunity.”
Though Europe have traditionally become more than the sum of parts on home turf, the US team look formidable with three of this year’s Major winners available to Johnson — Brooks Koepka, Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman.
Their line-up also includes former Major champions Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and world No 1 Scottie Scheffler.
“The US are very strong. We know that. We are coming off our worst defeat ever in a Ryder Cup,” Donald said.
“The US players are strong, high up in the world rankings and they have some great partnerships and have had a lot of success.
“We have our work cut out but ... you have to have belief in your team that you’re going to get them into a place where they are going to be successful.”
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