Ex-Euro Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin offers his take on why Team USA is doomed to lose for the eighth time in 10 Cups.
Give us a Brit's perspective: Who will win the Ryder Cup?
Seems obvious. Europe has all these recent major champions on our side: Rory Mcllroy, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell. If you have the fortitude to win a major — or multiple majors, in the case of Rory and Martin — then you're sure of yourself. And in the Ryder Cup, when you're coming down the stretch, that confidence is huge in helping you handle the pressure.
Which team do you think is deeper?
Our massive comeback at Medinah in 2012 [the U.S. led 10-6 at the start of Sunday singles] shows how strong our side is, top to bottom. Depth is crucial in the Ryder Cup.
What about the idea that big hitters like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson will outmuscle the Euros?
Well, if you want to talk ballstriking, we've got two of the best in the game in Sergio Garcia and Rory Mcllroy. Ian Poulter made five consecutive birdies to win his Sunday singles match at Medinah and is a great match player. And Victor Dubuisson is our secret weapon.
Gleneagles is a parkland course. Isn't that an edge for the U.S.?
But consider that our men have an advantage in bad weather, which may be a factor at Gleneagles. In the U.S., the danger of lightning stops play. Not in the UK. You don't see much lightning here, so our side has more experience in the wet.
Why has the European team been so successful in recent Ryder Cups?
It's because we take it 100 percent seriously. We have a need to win it. We want to prove that we're better than America. There's a genuine hunger for victory. I'm not sure if the hunger runs as deeply on the American side.
You captained the Europeans in 1983 against a squad skippered by Jack Nicklaus. Although you narrowly lost, that year transformed the Cup.
The performance was way beyond anything we had ever done in America. We lost on the last gasp by a single point. That was nearly as good as a win, considering where we'd been. It was a stepping stone to a convincing win in '85 [at the Belfry] and in '87 in Jack's backyard, at Muirfield Village. The momentum was building. Once you believe with confidence that there's nobody better than you, you're where you want to be.
How difficult was it to transition from playing in 1979 to captaining in 1983?
I was miffed that I'd gotten left off the 1981 team; I was 12th or 13th on the money list, but Mark James got in ahead of me, even though he had behaved abominably in 1979 [James reportedly skipped team meetings and refused to wear the team uniform] and received the biggest fine in the history of the British PGA to that point. When they asked me to be captain, I was shocked. But we addressed some issues, and I got carte blanche to do what I wanted. I got us flying first class, like you Americans. I got the guys feeling good about the clothes. And instead of gathering in the corner of some smelly locker room, we had a proper team room.
Having a team loaded with great players sure helped, right?
We certainly didn't feel like we were underdogs anymore, not with world-class talents like Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, lan Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Bernhard Langer, who were all coming on during that period. With players of that caliber, we had a lot of confidence.