Rookies could hold Ryder Cup key, says Jacklin

Thu Sep 29, 2016 12:05am EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - The destiny of the Ryder Cup may rest on how Europe's six rookies perform this week, according to Tony Jacklin, described by ESPN this week as the man who saved the biennial team event in the 1980s.

Jacklin, Europe's most decorated captain after winning twice and tying once in four Ryder Cups, says no one knows how Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters will fare under the microscope.

"Everyone's pontificating about this and that and going on about statistics but the bottom line is that we don't know how these six rookies are going to perform," Jacklin, 72, told Reuters in an interview at Hazeltine National on Wednesday.

"Some people rise to it and some don't respond quite so well so for me, someone who has been in the captain's seat, that would be somewhat of a concern."

Interest in the competition was waning 31 years ago but that changed from the moment Jacklin led Europe to victory at The Belfry in 1985.

It was the first time the United States had been beaten for 28 years and, since then, Europe have taken a grip to such an extent that they have won 10 of the last 15 editions.

The Ryder Cup is now recognized as the greatest rivalry in golf and millions around the world will be riveted by the Hazeltine thrills and spills on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Twice major champion Jacklin believes the Americans are now close to reaching the point of no return.   Continued...

Tony Jacklin of England tees off on the first hole during the first round of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am golf tournament in Haikou, China's Hainan province October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (CHINA - Tags: SPORT GOLF ENTERTAINMENT) - RTR39CO4