Ryder Cup legend Sam Torrance has said described Europe as “worthy favourites” for this week’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles but added that the match-up will be a close one.
Speaking to Direct-Golf.co.uk, of which Sam Torrance is a brand ambassador, the Scot pointed to the strength of Paul McGinley’s side as the reason for assuming the favourites tag.
“We’re a strong team. We have four of the top five players in world,” said Sam Torrance.
“But paper favourites don’t really mean much at the Ryder Cup. Although is missing a few players, the Americans are still very strong. It’s been so close for ages now; you can always expect a close Ryder Cup.”
Both teams include Ryder Cup rookies. Americans Jordan Speith, Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker all make their debuts this week, while Victor Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher and Jamie Donaldson are the new players in the European squad.
Sam Torrance, one of five vice-captains under McGinley this week, said the pressure cooker atmosphere of a Ryder cup means these rookies will play a major part in deciding the competition.
“ has got quite a few rookies in there, and they’re going to be finding pressure they’ve never witnessed before. But they could stand up and be fantastic. The Ryder Cup can bring out the best in players.
“, if you look at how Donaldson and Gallacher made the team, they produced incredible performances at the end of the year.
“Donaldson went to Czechoslovakia and won, so that’s incredible. You can’t ask for more. Stephen Gallacher’s performance in Italy was equally good, with a 65 in the final round.”
“The home crowd is always the thirteenth man," - Sam Torrance
Despite the unpredictability of the Ryder Cup, Sam Torrance believes that there are some crucial factors giving Europe the edge:
“Rory McIlroy is the best player in the world. It’s fairly obvious when you watch him play why he is the best player in the world," he added. “It’s incredible to have him on our side but he’s just one man. It’s a team of 12. They’ll all be working as a team.
“The Americans get on well with each other, but the Europeans travel a lot more, together. Stay in the same hotels more at tournaments. All the different cultures, it all just blends well. They become friends.”
Read more: Check out our spectators guide to the Ryder Cup
Sam Torrance says playing at home is an 'advantage'
The knowledgeable Scot also said that home advantage might just go in Europe’s favour as the European players know the course more than their counterparts.
“ might have a big impact on the result, but it’s certainly an aid to the European side. I’ve played there many times and know the course, so it’s always an advantage to know a course when you’re playing someone who doesn’t know a course.”
Sam Torrance added: “The home crowd is always the thirteenth man and you can’t get fairer supporters than the Scots. They’ll be equally fair to the Americans but obviously they’ll be supporting the Europeans.”