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Ryder Cup rookies on both teams are expected to make a big impact this week

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Walker is pretty fired up inside

Walker is pretty fired up inside

Walker is pretty fired up inside

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By Jody Demling, RyderCup.com

GLENEAGLES, Scotland - The Ryder Cup has the lowest number of rookie players - on both the United States and European teams since there were just five in 1985.

But once again the newcomers are expected to play a huge role in the Ryder Cup, which begins on Friday at Gleneagles.

Each team will have three newcomers, and each of those newbies will have a shot to add his name to the list of past rookies who have fared well in the Cup.

"The young players, they always bring energy," U.S. Captain Tom Watson said. "They bring the energy of the youth. They are getting their feet wet.

"The youth, as I've said, they can often determine who wins and loses the matches."

Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker are the first-timers for the U.S. team, while Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher are the new Europeans on the team roster.

"The excitement I always had, of course I was nervous," European Captain Paul McGinley said. "Of course your stomach is turning if you are a rookie or not. But it's also exhilarating, incredibly exhilarating.

And it will be once again.

PHOTO GALLERY: See the best shots from Wednesday's action at Gleneagles

A total of 74 Ryder Cup rookies have represented the U.S. since 1979, while the Europeans have fielded a total of 62 during the same time period.

The most the United States had in one event was eight in 1979, while in the past five Cups the Americans have had no fewer than four and no more than six.

"New players come on every year," Watson said. "We've got some really good new players. We have some good ones."

Watson called the 21-year-old Spieth - the youngest American Ryder Cup rookie in 85 years - an "A-1 player." Spieth went 2-2 at the Presidents Cup last year and had five top-five finishes this year on the PGA Tour.

Spieth said he "doesn't feel like a rookie" because of the Presidents Cup and other major events he has participated in. He's also used to the match-play format from playing so many big junior national events.

"Jordan has a great attitude," Watson said. "He has a very strong, mature attitude about how he plays the game, and I couldn't be happier to have him on the team."

VIDEO: Captains Watson and McGinley talk about the intensity that the Ryder Cup generates

The 24-year-old Reed won twice in 2014 but didn't play as well down the stretch, while Walker won three times, had six top-10 finishes and will be getting his first international experience as a professional.

In recent years, U.S. rookies have fared well. In the 2008 win at Valhalla, Hunter Mahan, J.B. Holmes, Boo Weekley and Anthony Kim - all four rookies that year for the U.S. - posted an unbeaten record.

The European first-timers haven't fared as well as the U.S. team in recent history. Since Sergio Garcia and Paul Lawrie in 1999, no European rookie has gained more than 3 1/2 points and only Justin Rose in 2008 (three wins) has as many or more than Garcia and Lawrie have for rookies with the most wins.

McGinley believes he has a trio that can change it.

Gallacher is a native of Scotland who has played in some international events - and has, by his best guess, played more than 100 rounds on this week's host course. Donaldson is a Welsh native who was a captain's pick and Dubuisson is a Frenchman who had three European Tour wins in 2014, and almost won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship - to play his way onto the squad.

"Nerves could be a positive thing," McGinley said about the rookies. "These guys are well clued in as far as terms. Everybody deals with nerves in their own way. They know what to do. They have experienced big occasions.

"OK, the Ryder Cup is a big step up for them, and I'll be communicating with them a little more that I will with the rest of the players. But they know what to do."

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