McDowell aware of Chicago effect

Graeme McDowell gave a warning of what Europe's players can expect when the Ryder Cup starts in sports-mad Chicago on Friday.

McDowell needing attitude readjustment

And he also gave the broadest of hints as to which eight he thinks will be involved as Jose Maria Olazabal's side open the defence of the trophy he won so dramatically at Celtic Manor two years ago.

"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.

McDowell made his debut in the 2008 defeat at Valhalla, but then had compatriot Rory McIlroy as his partner in Wales and is firmly expected to team up with him again this week.

"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 the silencer on. It's like a muted applause.

"I remember Valhalla. The 14th was a very big natural amphitheatre and one of the most intimidating holes as a European.

"You knew when somebody birdied - you could hear it reverberating around the course.

"I think 17 (another par three) is going to have the same effect this week.

"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 this week and I'm looking forward to it."

That said, McDowell also believes - and certainly hopes - "the days of hostility I think are gone", but with the course set up for low scoring he added: "I think Davis (American captain Davis Love) wants birdies and eagles to get the crowd fizzed up".

Seven of Europe's 12 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, the rowdiest match in cup history.

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

The former 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, who two years ago thrashed American top pair Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 6&5.

That left Francesco Molinari, Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer, all of whom were debutants at Celtic Manor, with Belgian newcomer Nicolas Colsaerts.

McDowell hinted they may not enter the fray until the afternoon fourballs unless someone really shines in the three days of practice.

"The established partnerships are fairly obvious - myself and Rory, Poulter and Rose, Donald and Garcia, perhaps a Westwood and Lawrie.

"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?"

Having lost away and won at home perhaps it was no surprise to hear the 2010 US Open champion making the Americans slight favourites.

It used to be thought that Europe always held the upper hand in camaraderie because they travelled together more, but according to McDowell "the American team have got a lot more than they have ever had before.

"I feel like their team is a lot more close-knit than it ever used to be, so that advantage has kind of gone to a certain extent".

Poulter and Rose won twice together in Louisville and Rose was asked if he had learnt anything new about his close friend that week.

"No, I'd seen the good, the bad and the ugly long before then," said the 32-year-old, runner-up to American Brandt Snedeker in the Tour Championship on Sunday.

"That's the great thing about Ian - he does remain himself no matter what the occasion, no matter who he's with.

"That's what I love about him. We roomed together on the Challenge Tour when neither of us had achieved anything in the game and for the most part he was the same fun-loving, confident person he is today.

"Obviously the Ryder Cup just really gets the juices flowing and brings out the best in him.

"He's an easy partner from that perspective. I think we complement each other - I can just be myself, which is a little bit more on a level and he can be the excitable one."

Love's three groups for the opening practice session contained no real surprises either.

Woods was with Stricker and also Snedeker and Jim Furyk, while Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, winners of three out of four games at the Presidents Cup last year and now major champions as well, teed off alongside Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.

The other group was Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson, all of whom played at Celtic Manor, with Jason Dufner.

While McDowell had been very open about possible partnerships for the match, Olazabal said after watching the 12 out on the course: "I'm not going to talk about pairings, seriously.

"We have quite a lot of players that have done well in the past and then I've tried to mix a little bit of guys I believe can complement each other and who understand each other really well.

"That's why I put Paul Lawrie with the Northern Irish guys and Sergio because Sergio is a guy that gets close to everyone. He can play with anyone."

As for Kaymer, Colsaerts, Hanson and Molinari, he added: "That's where we do have four different nationalities, young guys and we are trying to just figure out certain things still."

With two caps McDowell is not sure he has a senior role to play, but Olazabal said: "He is one of our main men, to be honest.

"He plays with a lot of heart and loves this competition. Those are elements that are crucial and essential to this tournament.

"He will fight until the very end, for every shot, for every inch."



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