The players have arrived, the pairings have been made and the mind games have started… The Ryder Cup is upon us.
With both teams looking to steal an early lead, Al Jazeera takes a look at four key members of the US team who plan on taking back the trophy that was taken from them at Celtic Manor in 2010.
Brandt Snedeker: Age 32, Wld rank: 10, Majors: 0, Tour wins: 6
If Team Europe’s rookie Nicolas Colsaerts is “Mr. Cool”, then his counterpart US rookie Brandt Snedeker is Mr. Angry.
The 32-year-old proclaimed this week that he wished to “beat rivals’ brains in” this week at the Medinah Country Club in Chicago and clearly has the ambition to do so.
Snedeker is one of four US rookies, yet feels their experience on the PGA Tour nullifies the fact that Europe have four of the world's top five golfers.
The plucky American’s confidence is not entirely unjustified either, as he enters the Ryder Cup as Tour Champion and FedEx Cup winner after denying Rory McIlroy in Atlanta.
Snedeker took that and the tournament first prize by three strokes.
Jim Furyk: Age 42, Wld rank: 23, Majors: 1, Tour wins: 17
On paper, otherwise known as the world rankings, the American side should be clear favourites as eleven of the team sit in the top 17, with Jim Furyk the worst ranked at 23rd.
However Furyk, embarking on his eighth consecutive Ryder Cup, has the assurance and experience to make the difference.
The veteran is also not without form having finished fourth in this year’s U.S. Open and losing out in a play-off in the Transitions Championship.
Phil Mickelson: Age 42, Wld Rank: 16, Majors: 4, Tour wins: 53
The left-handed Californian Phil Mickelson, now in his ninth Ryder Cup, will be another player that on US soil is rarely beaten.
He is one of his country’s most loved players and will be followed by a partisan home crowd wherever he is. Mickelson is typically a more accomplished singles player and is revered as one of the best putters in the game.
Mickelson, if on form, can produce breath-taking recovery shots from the tightest of angles and is capable of giving any European opponent a hard day in the office.
Raising support from the crowds will be where Mickelson comes into his own.
Tiger Woods: Age 36, Wld Rank: 2, Majors: 14, Tour wins: 74
And then there is former world number one Tiger Woods, who has been improving with every stroke - and who the American team will look to for leadership and points.
But while Woods has been the focus of the European team’s energy in so many recent Ryder Cup outings, it is now Rory Mcllroy’s turn to bare the intense pressure of playing at the world’s top golfer.
Veteran Ryder Cup player Jim Furyk has even described the Northern Irishman as “a marked man”.
The experienced members of the US team will look to unsettle the youngster, believing that if Mcllroy falters, the rest of his team will fall like dominos; the same way the Europeans have always approached playing against Woods
The Ryder Cup has always been a special tournament but with the McIlroy v Woods dimension, the attention around the game has rarely been as big as it is today.
Click here to read Andrew Binner's article about the leading men in Europe's Ryder Cup team. Because we don't want to be one-sided...
Source: Al Jazeera