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Team USA out for rebound after 30-year heartache


‘There’s a lot of great things to come. But couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the team, and to have those other 11 guys be my teammates.’

RICKIE Fowler and the rest of Team USA hope their bravado and star power translate to victory this weekend in the 44th Ryder Cup at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome. | PAUL ELLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ROME — United States captain Zach Johnson said he is “extremely confident” in his team ahead of the start of their bid to end a 30-year wait to win the Ryder Cup on European soil against a home team in “transition.”

The 44th edition of the event gets under way on Friday morning when world number one Scottie Scheffler and his American teammate Sam Burns play in the opening foursomes match against Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

“Extremely confident in our 12 guys,” Johnson said after a glitzy opening ceremony on Thursday.

“I try to take all the noise and periphery and everything else outside the ropes, take whatever could be difficult off their shoulders onto mine so they can go do what they do.”

Johnson has an array of riches at his disposal, including world number one Scottie Scheffler and five-time major champion Brooks Koepka, the only LIV player to make the trip to Italy.

Seven of the team also featured in 2021 when the Americans dismantled Europe with a record-breaking 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits, making the US favorites to finally end their European hoodoo this time around.

Johnson will have four rookies to blood into the matchplay showdown, but largely opted for experience with his captain’s picks, calling up Koepka, Jordan Spieth, the out-of-form Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.

He has decided to leave out Spieth and Thomas, a star pairing in the last two Ryder Cups, for the first session of four alternate shot matches.

Europeans have to be members of the DP World Tour to be available for selection, so skipper Luke Donald has to do without Ryder Cup stars and LIV rebels Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

Rory McIlroy is the most experienced player on either team with six previous appearances, and the Northern Irishman will take on Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay alongside 2018 hero Tommy Fleetwood on Friday morning.

“There’s a lot of great things to come. But couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the team, and to have those other 11 guys be my teammates,” said world number two McIlroy.

Johnson selected Koepka after his excellent performances in the major tournaments this season, winning the PGA Championship after finishing runner-up at the Masters.

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