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Labeling one team or the other as the favorite or underdog ultimately doesn't matter, says Bernhard Langer. (Inglis/Getty Images)

Europe will tee off as favorites, says ex-captain Langer

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Europe's three-match winning streak and the quality of its players should give them the edge, Bernhard Langer believes. However, the victorious 2004 captain warns, reputation and expectation count for nothing.

PULHEIM, Germany (PA) -- Bernhard Langer insists Europe will start as clear favorites as they bid for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory.

Since losing at Brookline in 1999, Europe has recorded three straight wins -- the last two by record nine-point margins. For that reason, Langer believes Nick Faldo's team holds an edge over their American counterparts going into the showdown in Kentucky.

However, the victorious 2004 captain has warned that reputation and expectation count for nothing. And he notes that Paul Azinger and his men are more than capable of ending Europe's winning run.

"I think you have to make them (Europe) favorites just in light of the last few," declared the German. "We've won three in a row and the last two were landslide victories. If you just go by that, they have to be favorites.

"Even if you look at the world rankings now, we have more Europeans higher in the rankings than in the past," he added. "We've even won majors lately thanks to Padraig Harrington.

"If you look at all that and Tiger (Woods) not being there, I would make the Europeans favorite, but what does that mean?," he said. "Nothing.

"The Americans have been favorites for years and lost, so it doesn't matter who we declare as favorites and who are underdogs," he added. "It matters who plays better, who makes the putts and has more fun."