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Team Europe
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Europe

Clarke happy to accept the tag of underdogs

Captain Darren Clarke is happy to accept the tag of underdogs as Europe go in search of an unprecedented fourth successive Ryder Cup victory.

Despite losing the last three biennial contests and six of the last seven, the United States are odds-on favourites to end their terrible recent run at Hazeltine this week.

But the bad news for US captain Davis Love is that the favourite team have lost seven of the last 12, with three of their five wins coming by just a single point.

"We are always the underdogs, aren't we?" Clarke said as his players got their first taste of the course in chilly conditions. "We're always not supposed to win. But they have been doing okay. The guys are all here and they are very excited and keen to play.

"The odds frequently are against Europe and so it's nothing different. I'm certainly not worried about it and I'm just looking forward to the whole thing kicking off and starting on Friday morning."

After the 2014 defeat at Gleneagles, an 11-man task force was established to examine all aspects of the US Ryder Cup process, with the biggest change seeing the final wild card selected after the Tour Championship on Sunday.

Clarke laughed off suggestions that the United States should draft in players from Mexico or Canada if they fail to regain the trophy, but added: "I think it's wonderful what they have done to try to come up with a winning formula, because it means they care so much about it.

"From the Ryder Cup's point of view, it's very, very important, and I think we're in for another closely-fought match this week again.

"But certainly I can speak on behalf of the Europeans - they are keen and we are doing whatever we can to obviously try and bring that trophy back home with us again."



Love clarified on Tuesday that his comments on having assembled the "best golf team, maybe, ever" had been misconstrued, but two-time major winner Johnny Miller has also labelled the European team as the "worst they've had in many years."

Asked if he would use such comments as motivation, former Open champion Clarke added: "I don't need to. The guys have all seen everything that's been said.

"But in terms of that, we have the Masters champion (Danny Willett), we have the Open champion (Henrik Stenson), we have the Olympic champion (Justin Rose) and we have the FedEx champion (Rory McIlroy).

"You combine that with all the experience and with all of the rest of the team and the way those guys have played, I don't really need to respond to that. I think I've got full confidence in our team."