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European, US team captains begin countdown to Ryder Cup in Minnesota


MINNEAPOLIS — The battle for the Ryder Cup began Monday with a friendly exchange between rival captains in a Minneapolis skyscraper a half-hour away from the suburban course where the 17-inch trophy will be awarded this time next year.

European captain Darren Clarke and U.S. captain Davis Love III met for a breakfast to mark the one-year countdown to the matches. They were welcomed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and other officials who are counting on international exposure and considering whether to use state money to pay for some of the costs.

The Ryder Cup is Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 next year at Hazeltine National Golf Club in suburban Chaska.

The matches are known for a charged atmosphere — rowdy by golf's gentile standards — and outward displays of intensity among players striving for a team championship in a sport more accustomed to individual titles.

The 12-man teams will not be decided until about a month before the matches, but each side has among the biggest names in golf — Jordan Spieth of Texas and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland have won four of the last six majors.

Europe is the defending champion and has dominated the Ryder Cup over the last 30 years, losing the cup only four times since 1985. The last time it was held in America, at Medinah in the Chicago suburbs in 2012, Europe rallied from 10-6 on the final day to beat a U.S. team captained by Love.

Love was brought back as captain this year by a task force created to stop a losing trend.

Clarke will be looking to find success at a golf course that has vexed him. Hazeltine hosted the PGA Championship in 2002 and 2009, and Clarke was out of contention early in both majors. He anticipates spectator support will make Europe's job even tougher.

"I'm sure next year the atmosphere is going to be electric. It is going to be full of home support, as it should be," Clarke said. "I for one cannot wait to get back here."

After the American team was defeated last year in Scotland, Love said he's looking forward to a home game. Reflecting on his close friendship with Clarke, Love said he expects an emotional week. "We're going to try hard to beat him," Love said. "But it's going to be a fair fight."

The event is part of Minnesota's upcoming run in the international sporting spotlight, with a Super Bowl and basketball Final Four both in store.

Minnesota officials were approached last year about dedicating state money toward special sponsorships and paying for logistical costs, such as state patrol overtime for security and traffic management for the hundreds of thousands of visitors. The proposal didn't materialize in time for lawmakers to add it to a new state budget, but Dayton said he'd be willing to consider legislation next year to absorb some security costs tied to the Ryder Cup.

"Given the economic impact of it and just the prestige of it, I would hope the Legislature would be supportive of something that would be a couple hundred thousand dollars really," Dayton said.

Republican Rep. Joe Hoppe, who has Hazeltine in his district, said he's hopeful such a request would be well-received.

"It's a big deal for the state," Hoppe said. "It's a lot of people coming in and spending a lot of money."

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