Ryder Cup 2020: Rory McIlroy says Team Europe are relishing underdog role

21 September 2021, 16:31 | Updated: 22 September 2021, 06:12

Rory McIlroy says Team Europe have "a lot of things stacked against us" as they look to retain the Ryder Cup - and thinks it would be a "huge achievement" to win at Whistling Straits.

Six of the last seven Ryder Cups have been won by the home team, with the only exception being the 'Miracle at Medinah' in 2012.

McIlroy was part of that team and will be competing at his sixth Ryder Cup this week.

With home advantage potentially even more of a factor this year because of reduced away support, McIlroy says Europe go into the event as underdogs.

"I think winning any Ryder Cup is huge and it's a monumental achievement for all that are involved, but I think over the years winning a Ryder Cup on the road has just become more meaningful for some reason," he said.

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"We experienced it in 2012, which from a European perspective is probably one of the best days in the Ryder Cup that we've ever had in history. I'd certainly love to have that feeling again.

"I think it would be a huge achievement, especially you look at obviously this tournament isn't played on paper, it's played on grass, but on paper you would look at the World Rankings and everything, we're coming in here as underdogs with a lot of things stacked against us, so I think that would make it even more of an achievement."

One factor that could favour Team Europe is that they have more experience in their ranks.

While Team USA have six rookies, Europe have three, and they also have McIlroy and Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia on the team.

"We play for each other," added McIlroy. "I think that's the best thing that you can do. You play for the guys that are beside you.

"You play for everyone that's helping our team try to win this week. You're obviously playing for your country and your continent and I guess your Tour in some way, as well. But most of all, we play for each other.

"It's a small collection of people that have played for Europe in the Ryder Cup. I think that's what brings us very close together, and that's been one of our sort of big focus points this week is just being here is very special and being part of a European team.

"Very few people can call themselves a European Ryder Cup player."

Asked about his role in the team, McIlroy said: "This being my sixth Ryder Cup, 2014 I felt like was the year that I embraced the role of being a leader, and then going on from then.

"But I think that's one of the great things about the European team; it's not as if we're just looking to one guy. There's a collection of very experienced players there that some of the younger guys and the rookies can look at.

"And then you look at our vice-captains, as well, and you look at all the pivotal roles they've played in Ryder Cups over the years. We have no shortage of leaders on our team."