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Despite winning six of past seven Ryder Cups, Darren Clarke calls European squad "underdogs"


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December 28, 2015

Sports loves its underdogs. It explains New York's affinity for the '69 Mets, the reason "Hoosiers" is worshipped, and why Mike Eruzione has never bought a drink in his life.

However, because "David vs. Goliath" tales are romanticized, sometimes the narrative is forced. Case in point: Even if a team is favored to win, odds are you'll hear a "No one believed in us!" rally cry from the victors.

Circle Darren Clarke as guilty of this charge.

Clarke, captain of the European club for the 2016 Ryder Cup, was answering questions from his Twitter followers, some which centered on potential roster construction. The talk led to Clarke tweeting the following:

Which, at face value, seems like a modest, respectful statement. As the Ryder Cup occasionally dips into jingoistic rhetoric, it's refreshing to see Clarke take a humble route.

One problem: The Europeans, in no way, shape or form, are entering Hazeltine as "underdogs."

Okay, the Americans do have 10 players in the top 20 of the world ranking compared to Europe's five, so we'll give Clarke a tad leeway. Conversely, the United States has lost six of the past seven matches, including an embarrassment at Gleneagles in 2014. After delivering such a shellacking, can the Europeans truly be classified as dark horses?

Ted Bishop, former president of the PGA and no stranger to stirring up Twitter trouble, took Clarke to task:

Perhaps, as stated above, Clarke was merely being deferential. Or, if you want to be cynical, maybe the 2011 Open champion is managing expectations.

But if the 47-year-old is trying to play the "No one believed in us!" card, we're calling his bluff.