Ryder Cup: US team 'one of the strongest' says Europe captain Thomas Bjorn

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Ryder Cup 2018
Venue: Le Golf National, Paris, France Date: 28-30 September
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and daily highlights on BBC Two and the BBC Sport website. Video clips and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app. Full coverage details

Europe will face “one of the strongest American teams of all time” at the Ryder Cup this week but “do not fear anyone”, says captain Thomas Bjorn.

The US team for the event, which starts on Friday in Paris, has the winners of six of the past eight majors.

Tiger Woods will also play for the US, having won his first event for five years on Sunday.

“We don’t fear anyone because we have played against them so many times before individually,” Bjorn said.

“These are 24 of the best players in the world, when they go up against each other they are all capable of amazing things.

“We will go out and do what we can and play our game.

“We know this is one of the strongest American teams of all time and we have to play our best.”

US captain Jim Furyk said Woods’ win at the Tour Championship in Atlanta has brought an extra “buzz” to his team.

“Not that this event needs more energy, it is probably the biggest, the grandest event in golf, but [Woods’ win] will add excitement I believe,” Furyk added.

The European team includes major winners Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari and Justin Rose, who also secured the overall FedEx Cup – which determines the season-long PGA Tour champion – at the Tour Championships on Sunday.

Furyk returned Bjorn’s compliment about the US line-up by saying their opponents are “the strongest team Europe has had”.

Who is playing?

Europe: Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrell Hatton. Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson.

United States: Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods.

‘Woods’ return brilliant for the game’

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Woods was named as one of Furyk’s wildcard picks for the event and will be back as a playing member of the US team for the first time since 2012.

The 14-time major champion has returned to fitness and form this season and his win on Sunday came less than a year after he said he might never return to competitive golf following multiple back operations.

Bjorn said Woods’ return is “brilliant” for golf, adding that the sport “needs someone like him that transcends the game”.

“I have spent 25 years playing professional golf with Tiger Woods on the scene,” added Bjorn.

“He does so much for the game of golf. It [Woods’ Tour Championship win] was brilliant to watch.

“Tiger Woods winning tournaments is brilliant and we all benefit from it.

“This tournament [the Ryder Cup] has its history, is a great battle and is 12 against 12, and that’s what we are looking forward to.”

‘We know how difficult it is to win in Europe’

The US won the last Ryder Cup 17-11 at Hazeltine, Minnesota in 2016, ending a run of three consecutive European victories.

But the US have not won the trophy away from home since 1993 at The Belfry.

Furyk, who played in nine Ryder Cups after making his debut in 1997, said securing a first away win for 25 years was not extra motivation for his team.

“We are reminded of it quite often,” he said.

“I started to be reminded of it the moment I took this opportunity as captain.

“I am not sure you need extra motivation in the Ryder Cup.

“There are some veteran players that have played in a lot of these teams that have never won on foreign soil. That is a part that is missing from their careers.

“It is not anything I need to mention in the team room. They are well aware of it and aware of how difficult it is to win in Europe.”

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