LONDON (Reuters) - Europe Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley says his proud team will embrace being the favorites when the 40th edition gets underway at Gleneagles next week after overturning years of United States dominance.
”As much as we are favorites, we’re proud of it and embrace it,“ the Irishman told Sky Sports. ”We’re under no illusions the task ahead of us is strong and we’re going to have to play very well if we are going to win the Ryder Cup.
“But it (being favorites) is not something we are going to worry about - we’re embracing it and enjoying that we have come so far to be favorites going in against the might of the Americans.”
It is only the second time that Scotland, the home of golf, has hosted the world’s greatest matchplay battle and the last time, 41 years ago at Muirfield, the U.S. made it 17 wins in 20 matches to cement their domination of the biennial competition.
Fast forward to the iconic Gleneagles resort and it is now Europe, formerly Britain and Ireland, who go into the event from Sept. 26-28 as odds-on favorites after winning seven of the last nine contests and having not lost on home soil since 1993.
Confident McGinley says his 12-strong team will wear the favorites tag well.
”I had lunch with John Jacobs, forefather of the European Tour, last month and there were tears in his eyes when he talked about how far we, and the European Tour, have come in Ryder Cups in terms of going into matches now as favorites.
”The strength we have in the European Tour is something we should be proud of. We have the number one player in the world, the most exciting prospect in the game, in Rory McIlroy.
“Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open, Justin Rose last year and on and on and on in terms of performances - all something we should be proud of,” he added.
“We shouldn’t be ashamed of it, but at the same time we’ll be very aware it could galvanize America and it probably will.”
A remarkable match between the transatlantic rivals in the last meeting in 2012 was indicative of the remarkable swing in power between the teams.
The Europeans laud the “Miracle of Medinah”, while the Americans rue the “Meltdown at Medinah” after the former came from 10-4 down to claim a 14-1/2 to 13-1/2 win with the greatest singles performance by an away team in Ryder Cup history.
McGinley, however, warned that pride may come before a fall if Europe are not wary of a wounded American team intent on gaining revenge.
“They are very much a wounded animal after the last Ryder Cup and the manner of the defeat, and (U.S captain) Tom Watson will be reminding them of that and I think they will be very formidable,” he said.
Reporting by Sam Holden; Editing by Ken Ferris