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Reeve: Best team ever for U.S. at Ryder Cup?

CHASKA, Minn.--Davis Love III caused quite a ruckus at the Ryder Cup with last week's declaration that his U.S. team "is the best golf team maybe ever assembled."...

CHASKA, Minn.-Davis Love III caused quite a ruckus at the Ryder Cup with last week's declaration that his U.S. team "is the best golf team maybe ever assembled."

The thing is, he's right. Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Tom Lehman provide the makings of the strongest American team in a long while.

What's that, you say? Oh, my bad. Those are Love's vice captains, guys who won't hit a shot all week.

The U.S. has a boatload of the world's finest golfers strolling the Hazeltine National fairways without a golf club in their hands. They will be invaluable to the U.S. effort until the first shot is struck. Then they'll be as helpless as the multitude of fans chanting "U.S.A.!" from dawn to dusk.

That's when everything falls on the backswings of the 12 players who actually make up the U.S. team. It's a good team, certainly. But the best ever? Not even close. Five players have won major championships: Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker. But two others have never even played in a Ryder Cup, and seven more have played in a combined nine. Only four have won more Ryder Cup matches than they've lost over their careers.

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So, the jury is still way out on this team. Maybe that's why Love is pounding his chest so hard.

False bravado? Perhaps. Love said Tuesday his "best ever" statement was taken out of context.

During the radio interview, Love said he was asked, "What are you going to tell your team (this week)? And I said, 'I would tell my team they're the best team ever assembled.' That's what (Alabama football coach) Nick Saban would tell his team when they're getting ready to go play.

"He wouldn't say, 'You guys have done a pretty good job this week, and you're a pretty average team. Let's out out there and just give it a good shot.' No, he's going to say, 'You guys have worked hard, you're the best team I've ever seen; let's go crush these guys.' "

It could happen. On paper, the U.S. team would appear to be superior to the Europeans, whose roster features six rookies most Americans have never heard of: Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett and Chris Wood.

But let's not forget that Europe has won the past three Ryder Cups and eight of the past 10.

The Europeans just might have the U.S. right where they want them.

"We are always the underdogs, aren't we?" European captain Darren Clarke said. "We're always not supposed to win, but we have been doing OK. The odds frequently are against Europe, and so it's nothing different."

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Plus, Clarke reminded us, "We have the Masters champion (Danny Willett), we have the Open champion (Henrik Stenson), we have the Olympic champion (Justin Rose) and we have the FedEx champion (Rory McIlroy)."

Remind me: Which of these teams is supposed to be the best ever?

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