Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer key for Europe

2014-09-21 15:00

All eyes will be on Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Germany’s Martin Kaymer to steer the European team to victory against the US in the Ryder Cup tournament next week.

The event tees off at the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Hotel near Auchterarder in Perthshire, Scotland, from Thursday.

The Ryder Cup is a biennial men’s match-play competition between the US and Europe. Both Kaymer and McIlroy have enjoyed good form this year, and both have won majors.

World number one McIlroy approached the season with a positive mind-set after a dip in form last year, when he struggled with a change of equipment.

He broke off his engagement to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki in January this year and from April, his game took off.

The likeable Northern Irishman, whose father Gerry follows him on the course during tournaments, won back-to-back major titles – the Open and the PGA championships – in the space of three weeks between July and August.

Also in August, he lifted the WGC Bridgestone Invitational trophy.

Kaymer bagged the big one this year, the US Open. He also won The Players Championship, a contest referred to as the PGA’s unofficial fifth major.

And in the 2012 Ryder Cup, it was Kaymer who sank a crucial putt on the 18th to seal victory for Europe at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois, US.

The US team, led by veteran Tom Watson, will be without Tiger Woods, who asked not to be included in the line-up owing to a nagging back injury.

But the likes of Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler are a force to be reckoned with, especially when it comes to accuracy using the long driver on a course with narrow fairways.

Both teams have four players from the top 10 of the world rankings. For the US, Bubba Watson is ranked seventh and Fowler 10th. Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar are at five and nine, respectively.

The European side, captained for the first time by Irishman Paul McGinley, comprises world numbers three and four, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, respectively, along with England’s Justin Rose, who is at number six.

With the US’s Phil Mickelson at number 11 and Kaymer at 12, the teams are fairly evenly matched.

Europe has won five of the six competitions since 2002, having lost only in the 2008 competition, which was held in Kentucky.

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