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Page last updated at 23:04 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 00:04 UK

Europe fired up for Ryder defence

Venue: Valhalla, Kentucky Date: 19-21 September Live TV coverage: Sky Sports Live radio coverage: BBC 5 Live Updates/commentary: Red Button and BBC Sport website Daily highlights: BBC TV/website


Both Faldo and Azinger admitted to feeling the pressure

Europe's Ryder Cup team have arrived in America with captain Nick Faldo in confident mood for the showdown against the United States, beginning on Friday.

"I have 12 guys who all want to win, simple as that," he said. "It will be an electrifying, spectacular week."

The Englishman brushed aside concerns that he only has one assistant in Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal.

"I've got a couple of ideas up my sleeve. I know I can hop around and get my information. I'm more than happy."

Faldo, Olazabal and seven members of his 12-man team - Padraig Harrington, Soren Hansen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Oliver Wilson - flew into Louisville on Monday after a flight from London's Heathrow Airport.

I'm very pleased with the guys who played last week and the others have stayed well-oiled. They are raring to go

Nick Faldo
They joined Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson who were already out in the United States.

Faldo took heart from the performances of several players over the weekend, with Karlsson claiming his first victory for two years at the Mercedes Benz Championship, and Jimenez (third), Hansen (eighth) and McDowell (16th) also posting good finishes in Germany.

He also dismissed any concerns that Open and USPGA champion Padraig Harrington may be fatigued given his recent form.

"No, he is rested," Faldo insisted. "I chatted with Paddy, he has had a week off and kept his schedule light.

"I'm very pleased with the guys who played last week and the others have stayed well-oiled, which was one of my requests. The team is raring to go."

Faldo also said he hoped that "if things were going well", he would have "all 12 players out on day one".

Four players are rested from each session of foursomes and fourballs, but two years ago Ian Woosnam employed all 12 on the first day and every one of them contributed at least half a point.

BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts
The Europeans, aiming to retain the coveted trophy for the fourth time running, arrived in stormy conditions in Kentucky in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

A television tower and several trees were sent crashing by gusts of up to 90mph on Sunday at the Valhalla course staging the event.

Kentucky governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency after the winds caused two deaths in the region and left hundreds of thousands without power.

Although much of Louisville was plunged into darkness when power lines were brought down on Sunday, forecasters predict pleasant weather conditions from Tuesday onwards and officials are confident the event will not be disrupted.

Europe captain Nick Faldo meets American captain Paul Azinger at Louisville Airport
Faldo was met on arrival by his American counterpart Paul Azinger
Temperatures are expected to settle at about 25C, with winds of between five and 10mph and little rain.

Kerry Haigh, in charge of the staging of the Ryder Cup, said the television tower fell on the 12th hole.

"The PGA of America is working to clean up all affected areas and is confident that when spectators arrive on Tuesday for the first full practice round, Valhalla will be ready for the biggest event in golf this year," he said.

United States skipper Paul Azinger has an inexperienced side with six rookies and is without the injured world number one Tiger Woods.

But Azinger insists his men are relishing the prospect of ending the American drought, which stretches back to the "Battle of Brookline" in 1999.

"As a captain I don't feel too nervous," he said. "We will be ready. I couldn't hand-pick a better venue than Louisville, Kentucky.

"We have waited two years for this and the fans have really embraced the Ryder Cup.

"Europe have a good team and there is always pressure. Not many people expect us to win without Tiger Woods but we are prepared."

Europe are the reigning champions, having won the 2006 showdown 18-9 at the K Club in Ireland, and triumphed by the same scoreline two years earlier at Oakland Hills in Michigan.

Ryder Cup schedule (All times BST)

Tuesday 1300-2300 Practice rounds

Wednesday 1300-2300 Practice rounds

Thursday 1300-2000 Final practice round
2100-2215 Opening ceremony

Friday 1305 Foursomes 1545 Fourballs

Saturday 1305 Foursomes 1745 Fourballs

Sunday 1703 Singles start 1904 Last tee time

see also
Ryder Cup practice photos
16 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup explained
16 Sep 08 |  Golf

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