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US Team are not the underdogs

Irishman Paul McGinley believes a Tiger Woods-inspired United States will not start next month's Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland as underdogs.

After beating the Americans three times in the last four encounters, Europe are expected by many media observers to go into the match in Ireland from September 22-24 as favourites.

However, the Irishman who holed the winning putt against the United States in the 2002 Ryder Cup and was part of Europe's record nine-point triumph two years ago at Oakland Hills, warned about complacency on Wednesday.

"This is an American team that is very up for winning, no doubt about it, and not to be underestimated," he told reporters.

"They have probably the best golfer the world has ever seen, playing at the absolute peak of his abilities.

"To say that we're the odds-on favourites, I don't see it that way. I think it's going to be very closely-fought."

With world number one Woods winning his fourth successive title on Sunday, the U.S., captained by the astute Tom Lehman, may be a tougher nut to crack than pundits are forecasting.

McGinley played with winner Woods in last week's WGC Bridgestone Invitational and the Irishman said he had first-hand experience that Woods could inspire the team, especially the four rookies in America's side, Vaughn Taylor, J. J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich.

"It was quite ominous, in a restaurant last week he (Woods) was having dinner with the four rookies, just the five of them," said McGinley.

Woods does not have an impressive record in the match but is showing his intent to improve that after numerous practice sessions at the K Club, including last Monday and Tuesday when Lehman brought the U.S. team over for a sneak preview of the Kildare course.

McGinley, whose team place is by no means assured as he plays in this week's final event to count for points, the BMW International Open, is also sure that Europe will hold their own.

"In order for us to do well, we've to compete and do what we've done in the last two Ryder Cups. I'm confident we can do that."

August 31, 2006


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