McDowell wary of 'intimidating' US task

Steve Saunders

GRAEME MCDOWELL has warned his European team-mates of the intimidating task they face when they begin their defence of the Ryder Cup.

THE Irishman, who so theatrically sealed the win at Celtic Manor two years ago, also rather bullishly revealed which eight he suspects will tee off the tournament for Jose Maria Olazabal's side on Friday.

Tiger Woods and US team-mate Jim Furyk have called on the Chicago crowd to give the American team an edge over the three-day contest and while McDowell concedes the partisan support will favour the home team, it is a challenge he is relishing.

"There's a world of difference between playing in front of your home fans and playing in front of the US fans," the Ulsterman said.

"Putts that drop in front of your home fans are like a bomb going off - and putts that go in this weekend will be like someone's got a silencer on. I remember Valhalla (in Kentucky in 2008), the 14th was a very big natural amphitheatre and one of the most intimidating holes.

"You knew when somebody birdied - you could hear it reverberating around the course. There's something interesting about missing a putt and having the cheers go up. That's something we are not used to as golfers, but it's something you've got to accept."

Seven of Europe's 12 players have experienced an away match before, including 43-year-old Scot Paul Lawrie, who returns to the side 13 years after his debut in Boston.

Lawrie hit the opening shot of the match that week and there was the first indication yesterday he will be involved in Friday morning action.

The 1999 Open champion was sent out for practice alongside McDowell, McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, while 2008 partners Justin Rose and Ian Poulter were with Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, the pairing which two years ago thrashed American top pair Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 6&5.

"You can pretty much predict our first eight players Friday morning. You don't need me to tell you that. Will we be that predictable? Who knows?" added McDowell.