International Golf News 25th Mar, 2020 by ukclubgolfer.co.uk
The chairman of the European Tour’s Tournament Committee, David Howell, believes that Team Europe will be heavily filled with rookies when the Ryder Cup comes around at the end of September.
“I absolutely expect some new guys to be making the team later this year,” he told UK Club Golfer.
“There’s just so much talent. You’ve got Victor Perez who’s playing well constantly, Bernd Wiesberger who hasn’t played in a Ryder Cup yet but if you look at his form last year and in the Rolex Series events, then he’s got a pretty good chance of making the team.
“Then, there’s guys like Viktor Hovland who’s playing in the states and looks excellent and Matt Wallace, who of course came close in 2018 with Thomas Bjorn as captain but it didn’t quite happen. There’s no doubt we are going to be seeing some new faces in there.”
Team Europe has featured a minimum of three rookies in its side since 2014, with as many as six making the team in 2016, and Howell believes that winning with first-timers would put the tour this side of the Atlantic in a good place.
“We’ve been pretty good in general in Ryder Cups over the last couple of decades. Obviously winning away from home is incredibly challenging but if we can do that with a few fresh young faces in the team, then it would be a magnificent boost for the European Tour.”
The five-time European Tour winner also said that newcomers will need to get to grips with the tumultuous atmosphere that a Ryder Cup brings and be ready to quieten down the noise levels.
“I’m not sure how the crowds will be in Wisconsin, but it’s a Ryder Cup and they’re going to be a lot more boisterous and partisan than usual. When you play your first tournament it’s all pretty nerve-wracking and you’re not used to it. The first time, for me, was a hit to the senses. When you get the chants of ‘USA’, it’s something that you’re not really used to and undoubtedly it takes you out of your comfort zone. Ultimately, it’s great and your job is to silence that crowd away from home. I think the players love playing in an environment that is just so different from normal.”
Howell featured in two Ryder Cup competitions as a player and believes that there’s nothing to separate the sides.
“Listen, the best you can ever wish for playing away from home, generally speaking, is to nick a victory. That would be amazing. Saying that, when I played in 2004, we won by a mile!
“What we do know with Ryder Cups is that it’s going to be a great event. Very rarely does it let us down and whilst I hope we win, I want to see some drama and engage the sports fans around the world, not just golf fans.”
The 44-year-old was named as part of a five-man selection panel when Darren Clarke was elected as captain for the 2014 tournament and thinks that this year’s captain, Pádraig Harrington, has a lot to live up to after Thomas Bjørn’s victory two years ago in Paris.
“There’s big boots to fill after Thomas Bjørn’s brilliant captaincy showing two years ago in France, but ‘Paddy’ is going to be a terrific captain, I’ve got every confidence in him.”