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European players get warm sendoff to Ryder Cup matches

By Ignacio Garrido,

No prizes for guessing what the main talking point was last week when we played in Germany.

Quite a few of the European Ryder Cup team were playing and it was a really supportive atmosphere.

They were looked after really well and both players and supporters made them feel good about their prospects for Oakland Hills this weekend.

It's unusual, in what is an individual sport, to hear the players talking as one about wanting one side to win - but there we were, all the Europeans, wishing our colleagues all the best.

Understandably, you could tell that some of them were more focused on the Ryder Cup than the event in which they were currently engaged. But that didn't stop Padraig Harrington from taking the German Masters title.

He's in excellent form, as are most of the European team. I don't think any of them could go into the event in a better frame of mind or better form.

On paper, the rankings indicate clearly that the USA are favourites. But it is nearly always that way. I do feel we Europeans bond really well as a team and that team spirit is a huge boost and narrows the gap considerably.

It has been said that because the event is a matchplay tournament it does favour the Europeans. But really, none of us, whether we're on the PGA Tour or the European Tour, play much matchplay golf any more, so I don't think that's an advantage one way or the other.

I believe it will be a lot closer than the rankings might suggest and that the competition will be won by probably a single point.

Another talking point last week was Ian Woosnam's exit in Germany. Walking down the last he put his ball in the water. At that stage it wasn't fatal. He was one under and the leader at that stage was only three shots better off.

But it all went disastrously wrong for him. He took a penalty drop but as he took a practice swing, the ball rolled down into the pond. Then it happened again, before he made three unsuccessful attempts to get the submerged ball back into play.

At that stage he was so frustrated he just picked up his ball and walked off. I didn't see it happen, but he was playing with my fellow countryman Miguel Angel Jiminez, and he told me about it.

I don't think there's a single player out there who didn't know what he was feeling. It's such a frustrating game some times. Most of the time you take your nine or 10, keep it inside and carry on with your round. But he was on the last hole, the course was a lot tougher than normal and he'd probably just had enough.

It just goes to show how frustrating golf can be.

Finally, returning to the Ryder Cup, I have been asked to give you an honest prediction.

I feel as the event is in the U.S. and the course will undoubtedly be set up to suit the American players they do have an advantage. I also believe the supporters will again have a huge part to play. I just hope they behave in a sporting manner and respect both sets of players. They are professionals and are entitled to be treated as such.

So, with my head ruling my heart, I have to say the U.S. will probably win by the odd point - but I've never before hoped to be so wrong.

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