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Ryder Cup: Tommy Fleetwood makes bold Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson claim

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson

Ryder Cup: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will not instil fear in Team Europe, insists Fleetwood (Image: Getty)

The rookie qualified automatically for Thomas Bjorn’s side after a year during which he rose to European No1.

Fleetwood also came close to registering his first major win in 2018, missing out by one shot to USA’s Brooks Koepka at the US Open.

The 27-year-old posted the joint-lowest round of 63 during his surge at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, and enters the Ryder Cup buoyed from a successful year.

Fleetwood is one of five rookies on the Europe team, however, and Bjorn expressed his reticence in selecting any more as wildcards.

Instead, the Dane selected veterans, regardless of form, to bolster the experience in the team.

Meanwhile, Team USA have three rookies and boast a pantheon of major winners among their ranks.

Jim Furyk’s side have won 31 majors between them – to Europe’s seven – and have four more Ryder Cup appearances overall.

Woods and Mickleson make up 19 of those 31 majors but Fleetwood insists that, despite the comparative inexperience in the Europe team, he and his teammates won’t be intimidated.

Tommy Fleetwood

Ryder Cup: Tommy Fleetwood won the French Open at Le Golf National last year (Image: Getty)

“Most of us guys on the European team play in the same tournaments against Phil and Tiger week in and week out at the moment,” the Englishman told Reuters.

“You can’t deny they’re two of the best golfers ever and they always will be, but when you tee it up you’re just playing another golfer, it doesn’t matter who it is.

“They were always guaranteed to be picked and they’ve had good years themselves.”

Woods returned from multiple back surgeries to sustain serious major challenges at the Masters and PGA Championship, which made his selection a no-brainer after it was originally expected he’d instead be part of Team USA’s coaching staff.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson

Ryder Cup: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson speak to the media after being selected as wildcards (Image: Getty)

I honestly think it could be one of the greatest Ryder Cups ever

Tommy Fleetwood

“Phil won a World Golf Championship and Tiger could have won three or four events on his comeback and he’s done better than anybody thought he was going to do, especially this year, and he’s playing some great stuff,” Fleetwood added.

“But that will make no difference to us, it really won’t. It will help their team in an experience sense just because they’ve played so many Ryder Cups but it will make no difference to us.”

Last year, Fleetwood won the French Open at Le Golf National, which will host the biennial trans-Atlantic clash from September 28-30.

Speaking of “home” advantage, he said: “It’s difficult to say that against the best players in the world who play at major venues that it will make that much difference.

“But if it’s going to go in anybody’s favour it will go in Europe’s, to be at home and to be on that golf course.”

The bookies make USA odds-on favourites to defend the Ryder Cup for the first team since 1993, but Fleetwood believes it’s more even than people think.

“I know there’s been a lot of talk about how good the Americans are this year,” he said.

Tiger Woods

Ryder Cup: Tiger Woods teeing off at the PGA Championship this year – he finished second (Image: Getty)

“And there’s no doubt about it they’ve got an unbelievable team. But at the same time, for Europe to be able to pick the four guys that got picked [Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson] just shows the strength in European golf.

“I honestly think it could be one of the greatest Ryder Cups ever. We do have a really good team spirit this year.

“Maybe it’s always like that, but it’s my first one so I can only go on that, and we’ve got a great bunch of players and I fancy our chances, I really do.”

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