SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Rory McIlroy says Team Europe is probably going to be the underdog at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and that’s just fine with him.
During an interview with GOLF LIVE at the 98th PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club, the four-time major winner shared his thoughts on the upcoming biennial contest. Despite Europe’s recent success — they will try for their fourth consecutive cup — McIlroy is wary of a strong, young American team.
“I’d say it’s very evenly matched, but if anything…” McIlroy told GOLF LIVE host Ryan Asselta, hesitating. “I’d give the U.S. a slight advantage in terms of who you would say is the favorite. But we don’t mind that. We don’t mind being the underdogs. Hopefully we can go in with that mentality and try to get another one.”
The U.S. still boasts almost double the amount of Ryder Cup wins, 25 to Europe’s 13. But recent struggles have lead to heartbreak for the U.S. squad (recall the Miracle at Medinah), who haven’t come away victorious since Valhalla in 2008.
“This American team, they’re young and they’re hungry and they’re motivated to try to go out and beat us. We’re going to have at least five or six rookies on our team, and coming into an environment like a Ryder Cup away from home, it’s tough. It’s tough to play your first Ryder Cup like that.”
As of the start of the PGA Championship, those European rookies would include Chris Wood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan, and Soren Kjeldsen (not including captain Darren Clarke’s three captain’s picks). Team USA would thus far include Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, J.B. Holmes, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, though the race is tight with big points up for grabs until the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The 41st Ryder Cup takes place at Hazeltine National Golf Club from September 30 to October 2, 2016. You can watch the full interview with Rory McIlroy Tuesday on GOLF Live.