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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Lehman happy to make US underdogs
US captain Tom Lehman and his European counterpart Ian Woosnam
Lehman and his team were met by Europe captain Ian Woosnam
US captain Tom Lehman has declared his team as underdogs for this week's Ryder Cup battle with Europe.

Lehman and his team flew in to Dublin airport on Monday, with the action getting under way on Friday.

"I think we are underdogs. Our team is very strong but we have four rookies and there is always a bit of a question mark about them," said Lehman.

"The European team playing in Ireland have to be slight favourites. I'm not opposed to being the underdog."

The US Ryder Cup rookies are JJ Henry, Vaughn Taylor, Brett Wetterich and Zach Johnson, while Europe have two in Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson.

Lehman arrived shortly after 1200 BST with nine members of the team, as Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk were already in Europe after playing in the World Match Play event.

And world number two Phil Mickelson will arrive separately after attending his sister's wedding at the weekend.

It's a one-way trip for those tortillas because we're going to eat those babies
US captain Tom Lehman
The flight was delayed by more than three hours after the party brought too much luggage - including three huge bags of tortilla chips ordered by Lehman's wife.

"We live in Arizona. It's the land of the Mexican food. And when we over here a few weeks ago it was very difficult to find good chips and salsa," he said.

"So rather than try to find it we decided to bring our own corn tortillas."

Despite the delay, the American skipper was in jovial mood and looking forward to the encounter.

"We feel very welcome here," added Lehman.

"I think it's going to be a phenomenal week - it's historical and significant and both teams have a lot to play for. The spirit will be tough and fierce but also full of respect."

Europe have won the last two Ryder Cups, but Lehman insisted his side would not feel under any additional pressure at the K Club.

Lehman leads the US team off the plane at Dublin
Lehman (front right) leads the US team off the plane at Dublin airport

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a US team to come to Ireland," said Lehman, who dismissed the possible impact of any inclement weather in Kildare.

"If you can't enjoy the Ryder Cup then there's something wrong.

"There are so many reasons to enjoy it, we grew up as kids dreaming about something like this. We want to enjoy everything about it.

"The biggest winner of all will be the people of Ireland and the game of golf."

Lehman said he was not concerned about the form of his players in the week leading up to the start of action at the K Club.

Woods, who watched Chelsea's 1-0 win over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and Furyk both lost in the opening round of the World Match Play.

"Everybody has been working very hard to be prepared," he said.

"Preparation comes in different forms: some guys want to win and get momentum going. Others just go into tournaments focusing on one part of their game and don't worry about results.

RYDER CUP BLOG
Iain Carter, BBC Sport golf correspondent
"The week before a big one is preparation - you always take heart from guys playing well but you don't lose it if they don't.

"Everybody has nerves and fears but that's all part of it. If you weren't nervous you wouldn't be a human being."

Lehman chatted amiably with Europe captain Ian Woosnam as the pair waited for the start of the news conference, and both went on to stress the importance of good sportsmanship at the event.

"We're not dealing with world peace or Aids in Africa," said Lehman, who also said he had visited a US Army veterans' hospital as part of his preparations.

"We're playing a game that everyone is very passionate about and wants to win but at the end of the day it is just a game."

The US team arrived several hours late after delays to their flight from America, apparently because of the amount of luggage the players, officials and wives brought over.



US RYDER CUP TEAM

 

SEE ALSO
Ryder Cup arrival photos
18 Sep 06 |  Golf
Ken Brown column
18 Sep 06 |  Golf


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