Team Europe split on ‘revenge’ mission but united in quest for Ryder Cup glory

The record 19-9 defeat by the United States at Whistling Straits was a humbling experience.

Carl Markham
Thursday 28 September 2023 14:43 BST
Team Europe’s Matt Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton are ready for the Ryder Cup (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Team Europe’s Matt Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton are ready for the Ryder Cup (Zac Goodwin/PA)

English duo Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick have spoken of revenge – compatriot Tommy Fleetwood preferred the word “motivated” and Rory McIlroy went with “determined” – but Europe’s team are united in their quest to regain the Ryder Cup.

The record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits was a humbling experience as they lost their grip on the trophy and that quartet are among seven of the current team who experienced it.

They all have their own way of describing what is driving them this week at Marco Simone in Rome but it all points in the same direction.

“Ultimately deep down you want to get some revenge. We have a fantastic team and we will be trying our best to make that happen,” Hatton told rydercup.com.

“You don’t want to be trying too hard, so you give it 100 per cent but being aware of not trying to force the issue and be natural.

“I’m not one to usually fist pump after putts unless they have true meaning but the Ryder Cup is different so on the positive side you will see more (from me) for sure.”

Fitzpatrick may be a major champion, having won last year’s US Open, but in terms of the Ryder Cup he has yet to land a punch having lost all five matches he has played in over two editions.

And while he is keen to get off the mark he is aware the bigger picture is far more important.

“Whistling Straits was disappointing… I think it is some motivation,” he said.

“Realistically if we just won by a point I don’t think it matters; as long as we win I don’t think we are bothered but we all want to win it back regardless of what happened last time.

“I couldn’t care less what happens as long as we win, I don’t care,” adding as a joke: “As the old saying goes, ‘if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying’. Don’t use that.”

Fitzpatrick’s faith in his team-mates has also grown.

“I’ll be honest, if you look at the way the team compared to the US team nine months ago you’d think, ‘OK, there’s a bit of a gap here’ but I feel the closer we have got to this week the more it has looked in our favour.

“Looking at some of the numbers presented, it’s a lot closer than everyone thought it would be so that’s a great sign for us.”

World number two Rory McIlroy felt the defeat in Wisconsin more than most after his only point in for matches came in the Sunday singles over Xander Schauffele, which prompted a tearful television interview afterwards.

“I don’t mind being vulnerable, it’s a very natural human thing to do and I’d say Whistling Straits was probably one of the most vulnerable times of my career,” said McIlroy, who professed his love for his team-mates in an emotional outpouring on the 16th green.

“I wasn’t playing my best golf. It was a tough week for all of us and makes us more determined to put it right this time.

“There are moments of chaos and there’s a really fine balance between thriving in the chaos and getting swept up with that emotion but also being able to bring yourself back to centre and get yourself back to doing what you need to do.”

Fleetwood spoke of standing in silence on the 18th green watching the Americans celebrate as “a very motivating feeling we knew we didn’t want to happen again”.

And world number four Viktor Hovland feels they have a point to prove after that thrashing.

“I think we all have a bit of a chip on our shoulder, we want to show what we can do,” he said.

“I am sure the Americans think they can show up here and do the same thing again but we’re going to do everything we can to stop that.

“I hope we all play our asses off and show them what Team Europe is made of. I just want this week to be a huge statement.”

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