Rory McIlroy admits Team Europe are the underdogs heading into this year’s Ryder Cup and says it would be a huge achievement for them to claim victory at Whistling Straits (Outright – USA 1/2, Europe 12/5, Tie 11/1).
Europe are the defending champions following their 17.5-10.5 victory at Le Golf National in 2018, while they have also won seven of the last nine stagings of the biennial event.
However, six of the last seven Ryder Cups have also been won by the home team – the only exception being Europe’s ‘Miracle at Medinah’ success in 2012, which may hand the US the advantage in Wisconsin this week.
McIlroy (11/2 to be Europe’s top points scorer) was part of the 2012 heroics in Illinois and will be playing in his sixth Ryder Cup.
The 32-year-old acknowledges that Europe are the underdogs heading into the competition but says he and the rest of Padraig Harrington’s team are ready to embrace their status.
“I think winning any Ryder Cup is huge and it’s a monumental achievement for all that are involved, but I think over the years winning a Ryder Cup on the road has just become more meaningful for some reason,” the Northern Irishman told reporters.
“I think it would be a huge achievement, especially you look at obviously this tournament isn’t played on paper, it’s played on grass, but on paper you would look at the World Rankings and everything, we’re coming in here as underdogs with a lot of things stacked against us, so I think that would make it even more of an achievement.”
Europe do have at least one factor in their favour: experience. The US have double the number of rookies on their side – six to three – while the visitors can count on the past Ryder Cup knowledge of McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.
Team USA’s preparations for the event have also been hampered by talk of a rift between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, something captain Steve Stricker has played down, and McIlroy believes a harmonious camp is key to being successful in the Ryder Cup.
“We play for each other,” added McIlroy. “I think that’s the best thing that you can do. You play for the guys that are beside you.
“You play for everyone that’s helping our team try to win this week. You’re obviously playing for your country and your continent and I guess your Tour in some way, as well. But most of all, we play for each other.”
McIlroy has been included in several of Betfred’s #PickYourPunt offers, with the 32-year-old available at 14/1 to be Europe’s top points scorer and for Harrington’s team to emerge victorious.