South African-born British golfer Justin Rose has said that he believes that a combined Irish English team would be able to take on the might of the USA without the help of the rest of the Europe.
The Ryder Cup in fact began its life 1926 as an exhibition match played between a team drawn from the British PGA against one chosen from the American PGA. The British PGA also includes Ireland within its membership. It wasn't until 1979 that the British PGA team expanded to include the rest of Europe.
Rose's comments come in the wake of Graeme 'GMac' McDowell winning the US Open at Pebble Beach and Rory McIlroy currently leading the leaderboard at the British Open at St Andrews.
"What would happen if Great Britain and Ireland took on the US?" said Rose. "Right now it would be a close game, like the old Ryder Cup was back in the day. I think for the first time it would probably be a close-run thing, for sure. We've always had one or two great, great players but we now have a great depth to the team," he said.
There are now eight British or Irish players in the world top 20 compared to six from the States. This is the first time that the statistics have been poised in Europe's favor for 25 years and is a clear indication that the balance of dominance in world golf has crossed to the other side of the Atlantic.
Five different UK players have won on the PGA Tour already this season. "Look at the rankings and, dare I say, it's better than it's ever been," Rose added. "Just on that basis I think one of us will be in contention on Sunday afternoon."