Ryder Cup 2021 preview
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One of golf’s most prestigious competitions is underway today as Europe and the US battle it out for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Europe captain Padraig Harrington said yesterday the opening match will be “big for both sides” after Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia were paired against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas of the US. Harrington added: “Everybody could have predicted the first. They’re putting their best out, we’re putting our best out, let’s have a go.” Rahm, the number one player in the world representing Europe, said it was “a big honour” to go out first for the big occasion.
He said: “It means the captain has faith in me and who I’m partnered with. We are looking to start it the right way.”
The Ryder Cup has decades of history, making the US-Europe rivalry one of the biggest in any sport.
A current star of the European team, Englishman Paul Casey, epitomised this in 2004 when he caused a stir with comments he made about his opposition.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, he said of the US team: “We properly hate them. We wanted to beat them as badly as possible.”
However, this was met with backlash, even from one of his own teammates at the time.
Paul McGinley, who was also in the victorious European team that year, thought Casey had gone too far, saying: “Hate is a bad word to use. It’s a terrible thing in sport.”
Around two months after Casey made the comments, he sought to clarify what he meant.
He said: “Americans do have a tendency to wind people up. When they are chanting ‘USA’, it just makes you want to beat them even more.
“That was the point I was trying to get across. They probably failed to realise it really riles us and the rest of the world.”
He later admitted that the controversy caused had “saddened” him, and said he doesn’t hate Americans.
Casey continued: “I was discussing trying to motivate myself for the Ryder Cup. I think anybody – if you look at a true competitor – probably said that line at one time or another, that they hate the opposition.
“It has been very difficult. I’ve been, to be honest, depressed by it – and saddened by it. I don’t hate Americans. I have an American coach, an American girlfriend. I live in America and play many events in the US.”
Casey has gone on to have a successful career, winning 21 tours and is competing in his fifth Ryder Cup this weekend.
He played in Europe’s successive nine-point victories in 2004 and 2006 – famously ending one match at the K Club with a hole-in-one – as well as the defeat at Valhalla in 2008.
But he was then overlooked for a wild card in 2010 by captain Colin Montgomerie, despite being ranked seventh in the world at the time, and was not even a member of the European Tour for a number of years before rejoining in 2017 and getting a wild card the following year in Paris.
Casey admitted this week that he feared he may never play a Ryder Cup again.
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He now hopes to play in more as he takes inspiration from fellow Englishman Lee Westwood.
He said: “There was a time pre-Paris (2018 Ryder Cup) that I thought I might never play another Ryder Cup, having missed a couple, more than a couple.
“I was quite emotional in Paris because of that gap. The form I had been through and to be part of that great team in Paris has been one of the most special moments of my career.
“The fact I was a pick made me sort of nervous coming down the last few weeks. This one I felt much more comfortable.
“And now I’m even looking at Westy (Lee Westwood) going, ‘How many more can I play? I think Westy is 48. I’m 44 thinking can I squeeze a couple more out?
“It’s amazing how my view on it has changed going from maybe I’m done, to what does the future hold?”
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