By Larry Fine
(Reuters) – England’s Justin Rose left his gold medal from the Rio Olympics home, needing no further inspiration this week than the chance to win another Ryder Cup for Europe.
“It’s not something that I’m touting around, not at all,” Rose told reporters on Wednesday at Hazeltine, where Europe is aiming for a fourth straight victory over the United States in the biennial match play competition.
“This week, Danny (Willett) doesn’t have the green jacket in the team room, Rory (McIlroy) doesn’t have the FedExCup in the team room. I think this is about the Ryder Cup and that little gold trophy.”
Europe has dominated the matches over the last two decades with eight wins from the last 10 competitions, but some have branded the visitors as underdogs since half their 12-man team is comprised of Ryder Cup rookies.
Rose scoffed at the notion of favorites or underdogs this week, saying Europe had no reason to feel overmatched.
“It’s nice to have belief in your team mates that they can stand up to pressure and they can deliver on the big stage and I think that’s what the gold medal and the (Masters) green jacket and the FedExCup and Henrik’s Claret Jug (British Open winner Stenson), that’s what they represent,” Rose said.
“They represent that we are guys that can play the best golf when it counts, but we are after that little gold trophy.”
Rose, whose Rio triumph came after a duel with silver medalist Stenson, said the experience in Brazil as golf returned to the Olympic program for the first time in 112 years underlined to him again the power of being part of a team.
“When I got to Rio, it really hit me that I was part of something bigger than my individual sport. Being a part of Team GB and the wider goal of the team and the medal tally and something like that was very inspiring,” he said.
“It made you want to be accountable and give 100 percent.”
The 36-year-old Rose, who owns an imposing 9-3-2 record from three previous Ryder Cups, said there was a Ryder Cup parallel.
“It’s very similar to this week. You have 11 other guys, plus the captain and vice captain that you really want to give a hundred percent for,” Rose said.
“(In) team golf, you become a better version of yourself for that particular week.”
(Editing by Andrew Both)