A battle is about to be waged along the fairways and greens of Medinah Country Club in the next three days.
It's clear that the Europeans are favorites to win the 39th Ryder Cup this year as they display dominance in a game once dominated by Americans.
Yes, the Americans are on home turf and have the backing of all the Chicago fans that will be in attendance. And yes, the course is more set up to favor American long hitters such as Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.
But that will cease to matter in the coming days. With the likes of World No. 1 Rory McIlrory and local favorite Luke Donald, the Europeans will have one of the strongest Ryder Cup teams in recent memory.
The Americans won't be too far behind with World No. 2 Tiger Woods and recent FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker.
While both team captains try to downplay the significance of winning such a cup, Ian Poulter made clear just how competitive Team Europe will be in pursuit of a Ryder Cup win (per Ewan Murray of The Guardian):
"The Ryder Cup means too much to us for it to ever lose that edge," Poulter said. "This event is unique. I hate to say we don't get on for three days but there is a divide, and it's not that we don't like each other. We are good friends, both sides of the pond.
"But there's something about the Ryder Cup which intrigues me; how you can be great mates with somebody but, boy, do you want to kill them in the Ryder Cup. It's great, it's passion like I've never seen before. I love it."
U.S. captain Davis Love III said (via mid-day.com) that the Ryder Cup is not a war but just simply a golf match.
Understandably Love is telling his team to have a fun and enjoyable time on the golf course with the expectation that they will play their best golf when not under pressure.
Make no mistake—both teams will be competitive come Friday morning till Sunday afternoon—it just seems that the Europeans have a mental competitive edge.
And why shouldn't they?
The Europeans have dominated the U.S. in Ryder Cups, winning four of the last five times and six of the last eight.
The Americans need to get the crowd on their side early; a fast birdie here, a Tiger Woods fist-pump eagle over there and the crowd will be chanting "U-S-A" before noon hits.
Regardless of the Europeans' mental competitive edge without stellar play from Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the Americans will have a tough time keeping up in points.
Clear leaders on the U.S. team, both Woods and Mickelson will have to rack up points to ease some pressure of the rest of their teammates.
Love explained to importance of having veteran leaders like Woods and Mickelson (via AP, h/t Augusta Chronicle):
“I can’t tell you how many times both Tiger and Phil have said, ‘Whatever you want us to do, we’ll do it,’” Love said. “Phil gets it, and he knows what to say at the right time. He knows when to be serious and give his strategy theories, and he knows when to make a joke and have fun. He and (rookie Brandt Snedeker) have been going back and forth all week, and they’re having a great time and he’s pulled Brandt in."
Great chemistry from the U.S. team, but will it be enough for them to pull out a Ryder Cup win against the super-competitive Europeans?
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