• "Europe's backbone could be very different," he said
• Half of the Gleneagles team have tumbled out world top 50
SIR NICK FALDO | RYDER CUP
Sir Nick Faldo believes that a ‘changing of the guard’ in the European Ryder Cup team means that USA are the favourites for next year’s match at Hazeltine.
The 58-year-old, who was the last European Ryder Cup captain to taste defeat back at Valhalla in 2008, thinks Darren Clarke’s team could have as many as six rookies in, while Davis Love’s is likely to be spearheaded by the likes of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, all of who played at Gleneagles.
"We could easily have six rookies" - Sir Nick Faldo
“I think America could be the favourites this time because the backbone of their team will be similar to the last one,” Faldo told Reuters. “Europe's backbone could be very different. We could easily have six rookies.”
But Faldo, more than anyone, should recognise the positive impact such an overhaul in a team can have, as Paul Azinger inspired his side containing six rookies – Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley, Ben Curtis, Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan and J.B. Holmes – to a resounding 16.5 – 11.5 win seven years ago.
“That could be a bad thing but it could also be a good thing because sometimes it can be quite nice to be a little bit of an unknown,” the all-time record Ryder Cup points scorer added. “I think that's going to happen and we'll probably have a fresh half of our team.
“There are a lot of names America won't know a lot about if we get the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Andy Sullivan and Danny Willett making the team. There’s going to be a changing of the guard.”
And Faldo may well be right. Of the victorious team at Gleneagles, only Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose have recorded multiple wins, Henrik Stenson hasn’t won for more than a year now, while Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell have only entered the winner’s circle recently.
McDowell, along with Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher and Thomas Bjorn, have all tumbled out of the world’s top 50, with the only member of the team to improve their world ranking since the match being Rose, who was No.6 in the world before Gleneagles but is now one spot better of at No.5.
Captain at Hazeltine Clarke also hinted that he’d be looking to the future with his picks for the EurAsia Cup in January, with only Ross Fisher and Dubuisson out of the ten players he named having played in a Ryder Cup before. His other selections were Willett, Sullivan, Chris Wood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Bernd Wiesberger, Soren Kjeldsen and Kristoffer Broberg.
Nick Faldo’s comments :: Are US favourites?
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