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European Rout? Not So Fast

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY | The restaurant was crowded and Ted Bishop, the president of the PGA of America, had time only for a few moments’ conversation as he passed Paul McGinley, captain of the Europe Ryder Cup team. “You guys have gone from underdogs to prohibitive favourites,” Bishop said.
McGinley laughed. “I like the way things are shaping up,” he replied.
It seems that everyone of European persuasion likes the way the Europe team is shaping up. In the early years of the modern Ryder Cup the Europe team clearly was the weaker one.
Then with the emergence of Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam, the imbalance became less pronounced. By 2006, the U.S. had arguably the weakest team ever and received a nine-point drubbing in Ireland. Now, eight years on and six weeks before play starts at Gleneagles, Europe are strong favourites.
The leaderboard after the first round of the PGA Championship told a remarkable European story. Of the 38 from that continent who started, 27 were on or under par with three rounds to go. There were representatives from the mainstream golfing countries in Europe such as England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Spain but also Austria, Finland and Wales.
“Was I proud?” Ken Schofield, former executive director of the European Tour. “You bet I was. Very.”
Twelve of Europe’s Ryder Cup contenders were under par after the first round and there were no injury scares, which was not the case among the American contenders. Matt Kuchar (bad back) and Jason Dufner (neck and shoulder) had to withdraw because of injury and this came after Dustin Johnson, one of the U.S. team’s successes at in 2012, was in voluntary suspension. Tiger Woods went round in 74-74 to miss the cut. Only 12 of the top 23 Americans survived to the weekend.


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