McGinley backs Europe's six Ryder Cup rookies


Paul McGinley has backed Europe's six Ryder Cup rookies to handle the pressure at Hazeltine next week.

Danny Willett, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Thomas Pieters will all be making their first appearance in the competition this year.

However, McGinley, who captained Europe to their third straight victory in 2014, believes Darren Clarke has secured an impressive mix of experience and form in his team.

"The European team have six rookies heading to Hazeltine, but I don't think that will be an issue or a concern," McGinley told Sky Sports News.

"The term 'rookie' is one that I'm not comfortable with these days. They are all experienced players, they've all won big tournaments, and they have all performed on the big stage - most notably Danny Willett winning the Masters earlier this year.

"Darren's team is also in great form. They are young, vibrant and they will not be intimidated by the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup in the United States. They are part of a team and Darren will be making sure they don't lose their focus."

Rory McIlroy won just his second tournament of 2016 at the Deutsche Bank Championship in September.

McGinley feels that triumph will help galvanise the four-time major winner at Hazeltine, while also highlighting the importance of Open champion Henrik Stenson and Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose.

"Rory's recent win at the Deutsche Bank Championship was very important for him," he continued.

"He is Europe's highest-ranked player, and we all know how talented he is. Apart from winning the Irish Open, he's had a quiet year particularly on the PGA Tour and in the major championships.

"But he addressed the problems he was having with his putting, hired a new coach and that was validated with his win in Boston. It has given him a lot of confidence, and I think we'll see a buoyant and energised Rory McIlroy at the Ryder Cup.

"Henrik Stenson has had a few issues with injury. He apparently needs more minor surgery on his knee, but the problem can be managed for now. He's a very important player for Europe, he's had a huge season and he's also a major champion now.

"You look at the rookies, and then there's Rory, Henrik, or Justin winning Olympic gold - you look at that European team and all you can see is good form, particularly over the last couple of months. That's a great place to be going into a Ryder Cup."