In Brief

Ryder Cup 2016: Tiger Woods will ruin US chances, claims Westwood

Englishman lands 'first blow of the phoney war' as Europe seek unprecedented fourth consecutive victory

The Ryder Cup starts in eight days and the Guardian reports that the "first blow of the phoney war" that erupts before every tournament has been landed. It came from Lee Westwood, the Englishman who'll be appearing in his tenth Ryder Cup at Hazeltinein, and it was aimed at Tiger Woods.

The American won't be walking the greens next week, at least not as a player, but the injured Woods has been asked by USA captain Davis Love III to join his backroom staff. Westwood finds the invitation strange, given his fall from the grace and the fact that even during his pomp Woods struggled in the Ryder Cup. "I don't know what impact there will be from having Tiger around," Westwood told ESPN. "They have always struggled to find a partner for Tiger that's been successful. He could have an adverse effect in the team room. People have always seemed to try to do too much when they have partnered him. It might be different if he's one of the vice-captains, you don't know... the captain is obviously building them up a lot and making a few interesting decisions."

Europe are seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory next week in Minnesota, but Westwood believes they'll tee off as underdogs although that will suit them just fine. "They have got a strong side and probably are favourites, but they haven't won it for a while and they are playing in front of a home crowd," said Westwood. "There is a lot of pressure on them. That is going to keep building in the next week or so and by the time the Ryder Cup comes around, it is going to be pretty intense for them."

Davis Love III captained the USA team the last time the Ryder Cup was held on American soil in 2012, a painful memory for him given the way the hosts crumbled in the singles' matches to lose 14 1/2 to 13 1/2. And Westwood made sure he referenced that collapse when looking ahead to this year's clash. "I don't know if something went wrong on the Sunday or the team didn't play very well for some reason, but that will be in the back of their minds."

So will the selection of this year's team, suggested Westwood, in a further dig at Davies and his reluctance to pick Bubba Watson. "There seem to have been issues about team spirit and chemistry," mused Westwood. "Love has not picked Bubba Watson and I don't know what that does for team spirit; he was first outside the points qualification and is No 7 in the world."

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