The majority of the US Ryder Cup squad (pictured) arrived in Dublin early this afternoon ahead of this week’s Ryder Cup, and captain Tom Lehman wasted no time in letting everyone know that he considered his players to be definite underdogs for the match with Europe that begins on Friday. Nine of the squad travelled with Lehman and his staff, with Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods already in Europe after the HSBC World Matchplay and Phil Mickelson arriving seperately following his sister’s wedding at the weekend.

Their flight was supposed to have arrived earlier on Monday morning but was beset by numerous delays and European skipper Ian Woosnam was there to greet them at a windswept Dublin airport. Lehman shrugged off the inevitable effects of jet lag to address the gathered media.

“I think we are underdogs, no question,” said Lehman, aiming to deflect much of the pressure off his inexperienced team.

“Our team is very strong but we have four rookies and there is always a question mark over them. Europe playing in Ireland have to be the favourites and I’m not opposed to being the underdog.”

Lehman also took the opportunity to thank the organisers for making his team welcome and stated that his squad and staff were all looking forward to the challenge ahead in Ireland – which is staging the event for the first time.

“We feel very welcome here,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a phenomenal week – it’s historical and both teams have a lot to play for. The spirit will be tough and fierce but also full of respect. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a US team to come to Ireland and if you can’t enjoy the Ryder Cup then there’s something wrong. We all want to enjoy every part of it and the biggest winner of all will be the people of Ireland and the game of golf.”

The 47 year-old from Minnesota, a veteran of three Ryder Cups as a player, also played down the suggestions that some of his leading players were not in the best of form going into Friday’s opening day. Both Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, the top two ranked players in the world, lost in the opening round of the HSBC World Matchplay Championship on Thursday.

“Everyone has been working really hard to be prepared,” Lehman revealed.

“Preparation comes in different forms. Some guys want to win and get momentum while others go into tournaments foucusing on one part of their game without worrying about the results. Everyone has nerves and fears but that’s all a part of being involved in such a big event. If you weren’t nervous you wouldn’t be a human being.”

The 36th Ryder Cup between Europe and the USA begins on Friday at the K Club in Ireland. Log on to www.golf-monthly.co.uk for all the best coverage of the event.