By Larry Fine
CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - Spain's Sergio Garcia threw down the gauntlet on Tuesday when asked about recent comments demeaning the quality of the European side and praising the U.S. squad for this week's Ryder Cup matches at Hazeltine.
"You don't win Ryder Cups with your mouth," Garcia told reporters. "You win them out there on the golf course. So that's what we'll see, which team is the best."
The Europeans have been the best in eight of the last 10 competitions in the biennial match play competition against the United States, but this time they bring six Ryder Cup rookies into the fray against an impressive American line-up.
Garcia, playing in his eighth Ryder Cup having celebrated five Europe wins, was reacting to NBC commentator Johnny Miller's assertion that this was a decidedly weak European team, and to U.S. captain Davis Love III's boast about the 'greatness' of his side.
During last week's broadcast of the Tour Championship, eventually won in a playoff by European Rory McIlroy, Miller said: "I do believe the Euros have got, at least on paper, the worst team they've had in many years."
In response, Garcia said about the two-time major winner: "Johnny says a lot of things. Obviously he's not always going to say the right thing."
Love caused a stir when he said in a radio interview: "We're a great team. This is the best golf team maybe ever assembled."
Garcia said the Europe team had certainly taken notice.
"They are pretty much motivating factors," Garcia said.
Europe have Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Chris Wood, Thomas Pieters, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and Masters champion Danny Willett playing in their first Ryder Cup.
They join Garcia, McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood for the 41st edition of the Cup.
"You know what they say, opinions are like ... we all have one," said Garcia. "So everybody's allowed to have their own opinion, and that's what they think, and that's great for them.
"But we know what we have and that's the most important thing for us."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)