Ryder Cup: Rookie Danny Willett confident Europe will make successful transition in Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy reacts after sinking a putt on the fourth hole to win the Tour Championship golf tournament and the FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Rory McIlroy reacts after sinking a putt on the fourth hole to win the Tour Championship golf tournament and the FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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Ryder Cup rookie Danny Willett says Europe’s recent dominance over the United States counts for nothing as Darren Clarke’s men touched down in Hazeltine yesterday.

Europe has won the last three matches between the two teams and eight of the last 10 in an era of unprecedented superiority.

But they land in Minnesota as underdogs, given there are six rookies – Willett and fellow Sheffielder Matt Fitzpatrick among them – in Clarke’s team.

They do arrive a little richer than before, though, after Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship in Atlanta and with it the FedEx Cup jackpot of $11.5m (£8.89m).

But Davis Love’s USA team boasts more members of the world’s top 10 (four to three) and has home advantage.

With half the team made up of novices, Europe are shorn of a large percentage of the players who emphatically put them on top.

“This is a blank canvas,” said world No 10 and Masters champion Willett. “It’s a very different team to what Europe has had over the last four, six years.

“It’s been coming for a while this transition. You might not have seen that if Ian Poulter had been fit and Graeme McDowell, who has had a few struggles, was still quite close, and it was the same thing with Francesco Molinari. It was only a couple of elements away from being an experienced team.

“But every rookie has won at least twice on the European Tour and they’ve all contended in big tournaments around the world. We all came on the Tour at a similar time, we all know each other really well and we’ve got a really good bond.

“Then you mix that in with the experience of Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer and you have a really good mixture of potential pairings and friendships. That’s what Europe has done so well.”

The 41st Ryder Cup week began amid the sombre backdrop of the death of golfing great Arnold Palmer.

Willett interview: Page 21.