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Ryder Cup is labour of Love for team USA

GOLF: Davis Love says a Super Bowl-like atmosphere and Medinah's home-course advantage will empower the Americans and enable them to reclaim the Ryder Cup from their European rivals.

By Agence France-Presse

Friday 21 September 2012, 09:42AM

The 48-year-old US skipper knows all about the pressure of a Ryder Cup, having competed in a half dozen, beginning with his first in 1993. He also knows about winning major championships, capturing the 1997 PGA Championship.

"It is our Olympics or our Super Bowl," said Love. "It is the biggest thing you can play in golf.

"It is not the same as the PGA Tour where you play week after week after week and then there is a major. It is more pressure. It is something where we are scared to lose and we want the Cup back."

The Americans have lost four of the last five Ryder Cups, including the last one in 2010 at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.

Their last victory was four years ago at Valhalla in Kentucky and they hope playing on home soil in front of raucous partisan galleries will give them the edge this time.

"You get to the last nine of PGA Championship and you are in the hunt and you get really nervous," Love said.

"At the Ryder Cup you get really nervous on Thursday when they have the opening ceremonies and put the flags up and you realize you are playing for your country and every shot from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon is that kind of last nine holes of a major pressure."

With four rookies this year and 10 of the top 16 ranked players in the world there will be no shortage of firepower for the US team that will play Europe at Chicago's historic Medinah course September 28-30.

This is the first time the event will take place at the Medinah Country Club but the golf course is no stranger to international tournaments having hosted five major championships.

"It is going to be a great event," said American Steve Stricker, who is making his third-straight appearance in the Ryder Cup. "From what I heard is they sold out of just about everything.

"I know the Chicago area is going to support it tremendously. We lost it last time at Celtic Manor and we want to get that back. Everybody will be fired up and it should be quite a scene and a lot of fun.

"It is the best golfing spectacle we have. There is so much history."

Love also named Scott Verplank and Jeff Sluman as his vice-captains for the USA team which comprises eight qualifiers and four captain's picks.

Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar grabbed the seventh and eighth qualifying spots as the final round of the PGA Championship capped the points table for selecting the US team.

Tiger Woods led the standings and Bubba Watson finished second.

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Also qualifying were Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson. Dufner, Bradley and Simpson will be making their Ryder Cup debuts.

Love filled out the team with his four wildcard picks on September 4, adding Stricker, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker.

That mean't there was no room for Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney or Rickie Fowler. Mahan looked poised to make the team but finished near the bottom at Firestone and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Stricker, who is ranked 10th in the world, is a steady influence and a great partner with Woods.

"We get along. Our games are somewhat similar but different if you know what I mean," Stricker said. "We chip and putt well and get it around the course well.

"Obviously he hits it a lot further than I do and has a lot more other talents than I do. But the basic principle is we are good with one another and we understand one another.

"Our short games are good and when you put guys together with good putting then they are tough to beat."

Stricker expects that his experience and competitive fire will help him adjust to the super-charged atmosphere of a Ryder Cup.

"You find an inner calmness," he says. "Guys get through it. When you make one, you want to make another."

Johnson and Snedeker earned their way in a three-week tryout which Love watched closely.

"You can't argue with the golf that Brandt and Dustin have been playing," Love said.

Love also said they plan to set Medinah up so that it gives the USA the upper hand.

"It's going to look like a major championship because Medinah is a big old golf course, with big trees and obviously big tents," Love said. "It's going to look like a major, but it's going to play probably easier than a major.

"That benefits our team. We're a long-hitting, freewheeling, fun-to-watch team."



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