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Langer rates Europeans best ever team

The question simply had to be posed after Bernhard Langer's Europeans completed their record rout of the United States by 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2 at the 35th Ryder Cup.

With his hair still wet from celebratory champagne and his face flushed in the afterglow of a runaway victory on Sunday, Langer was asked if he had led the best European Ryder Cup team in history.

"That's a very difficult question to answer, but I certainly think we have far more depth than we ever had on any of the teams that I played on, or even have seen," replied the 47-year-old German, a veteran of 10 Ryder Cups as a player.

"It might well be the best. I'm not sure. That's a tough one. But we have never had this kind of depth.

"We could have come here with 18 or 20 guys and given the Americans a good show.

"But 20 years ago, we didn't have this depth. We had five good players and then we really struggled towards the end of the 12-man team. That's why we struggled a bit, or struggled a lot, years ago."

From the early 1980s, the quality of the European team improved beyond recognition with the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Langer, Ian Woosnam and Jose Maria Olazabal at its core.

The U.S. won 21 out of the 25 matches played between 1927 and 1983, but Europe have now clinched six of the last 10 with one halved.

Britain's Colin Montgomerie, celebrating a fourth Ryder Cup success in seven matches, echoed Langer's feelings.

"We had strength at the top, we had strength in the middle and we had strength at the end and that's the first time I could ever say that," he said. "That's why we won, because we had strength everywhere."

The 41-year-old Scot added that the meticulous Langer had been the best of the five Ryder Cup captains under whom he had played.

"We in Europe have been very fortunate over the years to have such great captains and I've played for a number of them," he said. "No one better than Bernhard.

"You can see how delighted we all are, not individually, but as a team. And it's most important to have that feeling. That was brought together by Bernhard very, very much over the last year."

Langer's opposite number Hal Sutton also paid tribute to the triumphant Europeans.

"These guys are darned good," he said. "If you know anything about golf and you watched these guys play this week, you would know that they are very good players.

"I said early in the week that there wasn't an underdog in this thing, and these guys fought their heart out up here.

"The truth is the Europeans were the best players this week. They played ferociously."

U.S. Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who has played on four losing U.S. teams in his five Cup matches, believes Europe should be installed as favourites for the next Ryder Cup at The K Club in Ireland in 2006.

"I don't think we'll be the favourite next time," he said. "No matter what the world rankings say, I think we'll be the underdog. And hopefully, we'll play like they have (here)."

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