European Golfers Are Slight Ryder Cup Favorites, McGinley Says

Europe, the two-time defending champions in golf’s Ryder Cup, are a slight favorite over the U.S. in this year’s tournament, the continental captain Paul McGinley said today.

The event -- the sport’s top men’s team event -- starts Sept. 26 in Scotland’s Gleneagles resort, with the hosts’ having four of the top five golfers in the world, led by No. 1 Rory McIlroy. The Americans haven’t won the event outside the U.S. in 21 years.

“I think we arrive as slight rather than overwhelming favorites,” McGinley said today at a press conference. “It is not something to be ashamed of, but to be embraced.”

Europe is the 4-6 favorite with U.K. oddsmaker William Hill Plc, meaning a successful $6 bet returns $4 plus the original stake. The U.S has odds of 13-8, with a tie given odds of 10-1.

While Europe’s squad has a strong group at the top, the Americans have a higher average ranking. The U.S. team has an average ranking of 16, compared with 18 for the Europeans.

McGinley selected Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood to join automatic qualifiers Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.

The U.S. squad consists of Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson, and then automatic qualifiers Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson.

Last Loss

The Americans were leading going into the final day of play when the teams last met two years ago in Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. The Europeans took eight and drew one of the 12 singles matches to comeback and win.

“I know that our team is going to be totally focused on bringing the Cup back and I am setting the stage for that,” U.S. captain Tom Watson said. “This trip is a redemption trip. Many of those players who lost at Medinah two years ago are on this team and it is time to make amends. It is a motivation rather than a negative.”

The comeback at Medinah gave Europe its fifth win in the last six editions of the event. The only American win in that span came in 2008 when Tiger Woods was sidelined by injury. Woods won’t be playing this year.

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