(Reuters) - Victorious 2014 European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley wonders whether Davis Love’s comment that the current United States side “is the best golf team maybe ever assembled” might come back to haunt the U.S. captain.
Love, speaking ahead of next week’s event against Europe at Hazeltine in Minnesota, made the comments during an interview on the FairwaysOfLife radio show on Friday.
“We’re a great golf team,” Love said. “This is the best golf team maybe ever assembled. If we just go play our game … ignore the noise, work hard, do your job, everything else will take care of itself.”
Never mind that Love’s comments are not supported by facts, McGinley thinks they hardly help the American cause as the hosts seek to avoid losing for the ninth time in the past 11 meetings.
“It’s going to have a big galvanising affect on the European team,” Irishman McGinley said on Golf Channel.
“I find it strange positioning. There’s always a jockeying going on as to who’s favourite and who’s the underdog. Davis has taken that off the table now.
“It puts a lot of pressure and does corner his team to a large extent but maybe that’s his plan ... But if it doesn’t work out, there’ll be a lot of questions about that comment.”
American Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour winner, had an even stronger reaction.
“I can’t imagine how this one is going to work out,” Golf Channel commentator Chamblee said.
“This looks like a colossal mistake. There have been so many mistakes over the years of American arrogance that have backfired and this is another one of them.”
Chamblee pointed out that the 2016 U.S. team paled beside the 1981 side that won a combined 49 major championships.
That team, a veritable who's who of golf, included Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson and Johnny Miller.
The current team has won a combined 11 majors, headed by Phil Mickelson with five.
“Statistically, it doesn’t add up,” McGinley said of Love’s comment. “And also, the form of the players is not particularly good, outside of Dustin (Johnson). Form or world ranking doesn’t suggest this is the best team ever assembled.
“I know what Davis is trying to do. He’s trying to show confidence in his team, and there’s no doubt that’s an important facet ... but there’s ways of saying it, and respecting your opponent is very important.”
Love’s “best ever” comment came after he spoke of how past U.S. teams had tensed up after falling behind.
“We want to win so badly that when we have a bad session, or we lose the momentum, we panic a little bit and start playing not to lose rather than playing to win,” he said.
“You need to stand up there, smash it down the middle and take off walking, and letting the other team know we are going to dominate you.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine)