Tommy Fleetwood insists Europe not concerned by Ryder Cup underdogs tag

World ranking of players suggests competition could be a tricky one for Harrington's team at Whistling Straits

Tommy Fleetwood has insisted that the European team is not concerned that they are considered underdogs for the Ryder Cup, which starts on Friday at Whistling Straits.

Europe head into the biennial competition against the USA knowing that the form book suggests it could be a difficult few days for Padraig Harrington's side in Wisconsin.

Europe have an average world ranking of 30 compared to nine for the United States, captained by Steve Stricker, but with seven players back from their 2018 team that lifted the title in Paris, Fleetwood believes they have what it takes to win.

“People keep saying we are underdogs and if you look at the average world rankings then of course we are, but I just don't believe anybody in our team is going into this feeling we are going to lose,” Fleetwood told The Times.

“When you are in that team room and people are standing up to speak, the belief we have in each other is huge. We've seen how we grow and what we are capable of producing as a team.

“It doesn't make a difference to us whether we are favourites or underdogs, we just turn up, gel and, more often than not over the last few years, we have come out and won it.”

The heavyweight showdown was postponed last year because no fans could have attended under 2020 Covid-19 safety rules. And the continuing pandemic means there will be few Europeans in Wisconsin for the 43rd staging of the competition.

“Our players play for the glory of this event,” Harington said. “If there was 40,000 US fans and no Europeans, we'd prefer that than having no fans. That's just the reality.

“We want the noise. We want the excitement. We want the buzz of it all. Yes, the players will have to deal with it and yes, they will have to embrace it. But they wouldn't want the alternative. Having no fans is no fun. They will enjoy it.”

European teams have won nine of the past 12 Ryder Cups, including the most recent in France in 2018, and three of the past six on US soil.

With such veterans as Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter on the squad, as well as world No 1 Jon Rahm, Europe knows what to expect on the Wisconsin shores of Lake Michigan.

“Europe has a strong team when it comes to experience. That's quite relevant when you're playing an away match,” Harrington said.

“We expect a loud crowd. We expect excitement, and the players should be well-prepared for it. It's not like they haven't seen it before. After all, it is only golf. It's pretty safe inside the ropes. I don't think they need to worry about too much.”

Updated: September 21st 2021, 1:58 PM