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Gleneagles gearing up for Ryder Cup

Pick any spot on the Gleneagles golf course, look around and then close your eyes. Open them, and pinch yourself. It isn’t a dream. A type of land more accustomed to inspiring Scottish artist Sir William George Gillies, or fellow compatriot and poet Robert Burns, it is the type of environment to enhance every golfer’s game, let alone top professionals.

The sport’s most prestigious team tournament is fast approaching, and for Europe it is an opportunity to make it three wins in a row. With Rory McIlroy in the team, they have an outstanding chance. He is 4/1 to be the top European scorer and, after winning back-to-back Majors this year, the Northern Irishman is in the form of his life.

Heading the betting for the USA team, is Rickie Fowler and, after the 25-year-old finished in the top four for every Major this year, he is 9/2 to top score for the Americans.

Clear favourites to lift the trophy with an odds-on price of 1/2, Europe are in a strong position, reflected by Luke Donald being left out of captain Paul McGinley’s picks.

Having partnered Donald in his first Ryder Cup match in 2004, McGinley said: “It was a very, very difficult conversation, my relationship with Luke is very close.

“Luke has been an incredible performer over the years, he is a former world number one and his record in the Ryder Cup is absolutely outstanding. It was a very difficult call to make but one that had to be made in the interests of the European team.

“Luke was very, very disappointed and rightly so. My personal relationship with him goes back to the first shot he ever hit in a Ryder Cup because I was his partner.”

McGinley told of Donald’s response: “Luke said to me: ‘You know, Paul, I publicly backed you to be captain. Even though you haven’t picked me, I still think you’ll be a great captain.’

If the rest of the team apply the same professionalism to the tournament, there is no reason why Europe can’t make it a hat-trick of consecutive wins.