KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) – A fast start could be the key to another Europe Ryder Cup victory, says Tony Jacklin, the four-times team captain, noting that Padraig Harrington’s men could take a lesson from the women who shot out of the blocks on the way to winning the Solheim Cup.
With the biennial event back on American soil for the first time in five years and COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, the usual army of European fans will be absent from Whistling Straits leaving Harrington’s men to face a super-charged atmosphere over the three-day competition.
A quick start in Friday’s opening foursomes session might help dial down that enthusiasm, depriving the Americans of the energy that might fuel an early run of their own.
It was a similar set-up at the Solheim Cup hosted by the U.S. this month with the Europeans winning three of the four opening foursomes before holding on to successfully defend their title.
“I do believe from a European standpoint if we could get off to a fast start like for example the European girls did in the Solheim, it will help,” Jacklin told Reuters. “I think you are going to see some very strong pairings those first two days on the European end of things.
“If they can get off to a fast start I think we are going to have a very good chance.
“You can’t win it the first day but you can sort of lose it, it’s important for Europe to get off to a fast start because there will be 10 times the number of U.S. supporters as there will be European.”
Who Harrington will throw out to lead the way on Friday remains classified information with the European captain refusing to reveal his hand.
The only hint Harrington has offered is that his leadoff men are likely to have experienced the Ryder Cup cauldron and he has plenty of that to draw on in Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.
“Obviously, Europe has a strong team when it comes to experience,” Harrington said. “That’s quite relevant when you’re playing an away match.
“If you had two players, one experienced and one not of equal ability, certainly in an away match, you would be looking for experience.
“Certainly it’s pretty tried and tested in Europe that we’re going to go with experience when we’re coming across here.”
While a bright start would be welcomed by the Europeans, recent history indicates it is not necessary for success.
Europe have not won the opening session of a Ryder Cup since 2006 but in the six events since have lifted the trophy four times.
The U.S. have won it five times (including a 3-1 advantage in the morning fourballs in 2018) and there was one tie in 2012, according to research provided by the Elias Sports Bureau.
(Reporting by Steve Keating, Editing by Ed Osmond)