The US Ryder Cup team will have a “chip on their shoulder” when they defend the trophy in France next year despite their strength in depth, says captain Jim Furyk.
Furyk was speaking after a gathering, also attended by his European counterpart Thomas Bjorn, in Paris to mark a year to go before the event at Le Golf National.
He also stated he wants Tiger Woods on board as his team tries to win an away match for the first time since 1993.
Bjorn, meanwhile, claimed he is not concerned by American golf’s growing reputation and said the in-form Tyrrell Hatton is just the sort of player he wants in his team
The US won the Presidents Cup earlier this month by thrashing their International opposition 19-11. A year earlier, they convincingly won back the Ryder Cup with a resounding 17-11 triumph. at Hazeltine.
They boast some of the most potent golfing talent on the planet.
Among their number they have Open champion Jordan Spieth, US PGA winner Justin Thomas, US Open victor Brooks Koepka, world number one Dustin Johnson and Ryder Cup specialist Patrick Reed.
But Furyk believes there is still work to be done to fully restore his country’s Ryder Cup reputation.
“I think as a team from the United States we still have something to prove,” he told BBC Sport.
“We still have a chip on our shoulder. Right now we do hold the cup, we won it at Hazeltine, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do that here in Europe.
“I think in order to validate what we have been working on we are going to have to win on both sides of the pond.”
The United States were so dominant in the recent Presidents Cup they came within a point of beating the Internationals with a day to spare.
It was a frightening display of talent, but Bjorn refuses to be intimidated.
“This morning’s world rankings have 10 Europeans in the top 20,” the Dane told me.
“I’ve got to say, European golf might never have looked stronger when it comes to world rankings.
“Yes the Americans are doing well, they did well at Hazeltine and in the Presidents Cup, but you’d expect that. It can’t surprise anyone that the American team is going to be strong.
“They are going to be fierce, they are going to play some fantastic golf but I still believe that European golf is in a healthier spot than it probably ever has been.
“I think it’s going to be quite close, and when I look at those numbers I get quite excited.”
|Ryder Cup results: 2002-2016|
|Year & winner||Result|
|2002 – Europe||15½-12½|
|2004 – Europe||18½-9½|
|2006 – Europe||18½-9½|
|2008 – United States||16½-11½|
|2010 – Europe||14½-13½|
|2012 – Europe||14½-13½|
|2014 – Europe||16½-11½|
|2016 – United States||17-11|
Bjorn is delighted Hatton has made such a brilliant start to the qualifying process. The 26-year-old Englishman is celebrating back-to-back wins in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and last week’s Italian Open.
“He is everything you want in a player,” Bjorn said. “He’s aggressive, he knows what he wants, he works very hard.
“He gets out on a golf course and when things don’t go his way he gets very frustrated. I can certainly relate to that in my own golf.
“But he also has the capability of getting his nose right in there when it matters.
“Holing the right putts, hitting the right shots at the right time, and when he has to hole that 15-footer to win a tournament, he does hole it. Not everyone has that.”
By highlighting such qualities, Bjorn could have been talking about Woods in his prime. The 14-time major champion has not played since January after the fourth back surgery of his career.
Recent social media posts have shown signs that the 41-year-old is on the road to a full recovery. He has been hitting tee shots and given the all-clear to continue working towards a return to competitive golf.
“I think it is exciting,” Furyk said. “Everyone in the world of golf would like to see Tiger playing, and playing well and competitive again.
“I haven’t seen him swing a golf club in so long and in the last couple of years when he did it looked very stiff.”
Furyk, a former Ryder Cup partner of Woods, is encouraged by what he has seen in the most recent footage.
“He wasn’t revving it up to 120mph but it was fluid, it looked like Tiger’s swing of old,” he said.
“I don’t know how healthy he is and when he will start playing competitive golf again but I would hope and love to see him with the same exuberance.
“He’s been excited to be involved in the last few teams as a vice-captain. He’s been a great resource for our captains.
And Furyk made it clear he wants Woods as part of his set-up in France next September.
“A lot of the young players look up to him,” he said.
“So if that could be as a player that would be great but if not I would hope he would accept that same role as a vice-captain and help out in that way.”