Miguel Angel Jimenez, the statesman of the European Team(Getty Images)

Third time lucky for Casey and Jimenez

By Roddy Williams- Europeantour.com

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Much has been made of the experienced Ryder Cup players such as Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington and the role they will play at Valhalla, and at the opposite end of the spectrum how the rookies will fare in The Ryder Cup cauldron, but nestled in between are two players competing in their third Ryder Cups whose roles could be pivotal.

Paul Casey and Miguel Angel Jim´┐Żnez know what to expect when they step on the first tee on Friday for what is undoubtedly one of the most intimidating shots in golf.

For Casey, the aim is to be as comfortable as possible. In his rookie year in 2004, Langer played only one rookie -- Luke Donald - on the opening day, opting instead to give the others a taste of what was to come by sending them to see the opening shots.

"Langer made all the rookies go down the first tee on Friday morning and watch the first tee shots so we could get a taste of what the atmosphere was like," said Casey. "You know, going down to that first tee on Friday it really gave you a taste of what it was going to be like when you got up there and had to hit that first tee shot. Not sure whether it helped or whether it scared us more than we already were, the atmosphere sort of scared the living daylights out of us.

"But to be honest, I was actually very happy from my perspective. I was very happy not to play that first Friday; watch, learn, see what it was like. I felt very, very ready when I teed up on Saturday and played with David Howell and actually found the first fairway and went on to win the match.

"Really it's a comfort thing. This is my third one of these now and I remember at The K Club I thought I would be better than I was the at Oakland Hills, and I wasn't. It's still a bad situation. Not much thought is given to the type of swing you're going to make. You're just trying to remember to breathe and stick to the routine, which is another great thing that Langer gave us was stick to the routine."

For Jimenez, it is also his third Ryder Cup having played in 1999 at The Country Club, Brookline, and also in 2004 at Oakland Hills. Now, at the age of 44 he is the elder statesman of the European Team and looking forward to the contest getting underway.

"Of course, I am the granddad of the team," he joked. "But they know how to play golf, of course. Some of them, they are rookies, too, and they are expecting to play and be part of The Ryder Cup, and they are great players. They know what to do there on the golf course."

Although Europe start The 2008 Ryder Cup as favourites after three successive victories, the last two by record margins, Jimenez for one was showing no signs of complacency.

"The last few Ryder Cups we won, and now we have to play this one and of course we are playing well on our side and we are feeling good. Probably that's a big advantage, but you never know what's going to happen. The tournament has not started yet and we'll have to see what happens on Friday. We'll have to stay calm and focused because this one is a different one than the other ones, you know.

"I believe the players that are playing here, they also want to fight. One thing you know for sure, it's going to be a very nice and very interesting contest."