by Ronan MacNamara
Rory McIlroy. By Golffile
It is widely believed that the Ryder Cup means more to the Europeans as they tend to bond better than the Americans and the comradery and team spirit is always there for everyone to see, win or lose. The Europeans have always been proud of their Ryder Cup history and Pádraig Harrington has revealed his first off course tactic to bring the team even closer together, by giving each player a number.
What do the numbers signify? Only 164 players have represented Europe in Ryder Cup history so Harrington has given each player their own unique number this week to remind them of how special it is to compete in a Ryder Cup.
Rory McIlroy who is number 144, was touched by what his captain did as it signified how big of an achievement it is to play in a Ryder Cup for Europe.
“Pádraig Harrington played a video for us last night to put it into context.
“570 people have been into space, I think over 5,000 have climbed Everest, 225 have won a men’s Major.
“When you break it down like that it’s a pretty small group and it’s pretty cool.
“I’m number 144, Lee (Westwood) is number 118. You just look at all the players before you and you look at Bernd Wiesberger making his debut this year who is 164.
“It’s a small collection of people who have played for Europe in the Ryder Cup and I think that’s what brings us very close together.”
Six of the last seven Ryder Cups have been won by the home team with the exception being the Miracle at Medinah in 2012 of which McIlroy played a huge part of.
Europe have won seven of the last nine biennial contests and McIlroy, who will make his sixth appearance says that Europe have “a lot of things stacked against us” and thinks it would be a “huge achievement” if they could retain the Ryder Cup on US soil this week considering all twelve US players are inside the top-21 in the World Rankings.
"I think winning any Ryder Cup is huge and it's a monumental achievement for all that are involved, but I think over the years winning a Ryder Cup on the road has just become more meaningful for some reason.
"We experienced it in 2012, which from a European perspective is probably one of the best days in the Ryder Cup that we've ever had in history. I'd certainly love to have that feeling again.
"I think it would be a huge achievement, especially you look at obviously this tournament isn't played on paper, it's played on grass, but on paper you would look at the World Rankings and everything, we're coming in here as underdogs with a lot of things stacked against us, so I think that would make it even more of an achievement."
One factor that might benefit the away side is that they have a host of experience in their ranks while the US have six rookies, although the last time that was the case was in Valhalla in 2008 and Paul Azinger’s side came up trumps.
Steve Stricker’s team only have 12 Ryder Cup appearances between them while Lee Westwood has ten.
McIlroy feels experience might play a part, with that team bond already being established with the likes of him, Westwood, Poulter, Casey and Garcia the linchpins of the side.
"We play for each other," added McIlroy. "I think that's the best thing that you can do. You play for the guys that are beside you.
"You play for everyone that's helping our team try to win this week. You're obviously playing for your country and your continent and I guess your Tour in some way, as well. But most of all, we play for each other.”
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