DUBLIN (Reuters) - Tom Watson’s United States team will go into the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland “like a wounded animal” after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Illinois two years ago, said Europe captain Paul McGinley.
The Americans, under skipper Watson’s predecessor Davis Love III, had one hand on the trophy when they took a 10-6 lead into the final day at Medinah, only for Jose Maria Olazabal’s side to stage a remarkable comeback to win by 14 1/2 points to 13 1/2.
“All three of us are under no illusions how strong the American team is going to be,” McGinley told reporters on Thursday after naming fellow Irishman Des Smyth and 2002 skipper Sam Torrance as his deputies.
”They’re going to be very well led by Tom Watson and we know we’re up against it. They’re like a wounded animal after what happened at Medinah and they will be a highly-motivated team.
“But that’s good. It’s a real challenge to look forward to and it’s what makes the Ryder Cup so special,” added McGinley.
Torrance, 60, holds the record for the most tournament appearances on the European Tour with 706 and has a proud Ryder Cup history.
The Scot holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 1985 when Europe ended a 28-year victory drought and appeared in the biennial team event eight times in a row between 1981-95.
“The main guys that Paul would want in his team have all had a good start to the year and it’s all bubbling along nicely,” said Torrance.
“We’ve got one rookie virtually guaranteed a place in Victor Dubuisson and he looks fantastic. He is a breath of fresh air and to have a rookie as strong as that is great news.”
Dubuisson, 23, announced himself on the world stage by landing the Turkish Airlines Open title in November, beating a field that included 14-times major champion Tiger Woods and U.S. Open winner Justin Rose.
The Frenchman then produced a swashbuckling display in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona last month, conjuring two magical escapes from the desert scrub in the playoff before losing to Australian Jason Day at the 23rd hole.
“I am looking forward to meeting some of the younger players that I haven’t seen live yet. Victor looks a wonderful player and I know Rory McIlroy,” said the 61-year-old Smyth.
“The nucleus of the team looks good. A lot of the guys that won two years ago are going to be back but you can see there’s some young players showing that they can make it.”
Smyth, who won eight times on the tour and played in the 1979 and 1981 Ryder Cups, will also act as Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez’s vice-captain at the inaugural EurAsia Cup match between Europe and Asia in Malaysia this month.
Torrance said McGinley, the first Irishman to be appointed captain, had all the right credentials to lead Europe’s 12-strong team at Gleneagles from September 26-28.
“Paul’s been a vice-captain before and he’s also been a captain at the Seve Trophy,” said the veteran Scot.
”He knows all there is to know, we’re just there to nudge him along. I played in eight Ryder Cups and it was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life.
“But I can honestly say as captain that I was the most relaxed I’ve ever been at a golf tournament - probably because I didn’t have to play.”
The U.S. have not won the trophy in Europe since 1993, when Watson was captain for the first time.
Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Ed Osmond