Paris - A veteran United States squad featuring 14-time
major winner Tiger Woods seeks the first American triumph on European soil in
25 years when the Ryder Cup tees off next week at Le Golf National.
The September 28-30 showdown in France pits Woods and eight
other US major champions against a European side with five major winners and
just as many Cup newcomers in its 12-player line-up.
"My excitement to be in the Ryder Cup is at an all-time
high," said five-time major champion Phil Mickelson ahead of his
record-breaking 12th consecutive Ryder Cup start.
"I cherish these events. If I'd be lucky enough to go
over there and be part of a winning team it would probably be my most memorable
The Americans lead the overall rivalry 26-13, with two
drawn, but since the roster was expanded from Britain and Ireland to Europe in
1979, Europe leads 10-8 with one drawn.
"They have an incredible crowd over there," US
captain Jim Furyk said. "They make a lot of noise. I love their chants.
I'm looking forward to hearing that noise and I know this group of guys is
excited to meet that challenge.
"We have a lot of guys in good form right now, guys who
are having great seasons. To be able to weather that storm, that veteran
experience will be key."
Woods has only won once from seven Ryder Cups, that in 1999
in the best US last-day comeback ever.
Back injuries left Woods an assistant captain at the 2016
event, but he's back on the course this time after spinal fusion surgery and a
return to form that saw him lead on Sunday at the British Open and finish
second at last month's PGA Championship.
"To have Tiger back and playing at such a high elite
level has been exciting for everybody, including the players," Mickelson
said. "We find ourselves watching with interest, just like all the fans
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and reigning Masters
champion Patrick Reed, the self-styled "Captain America" who relishes
the songs and taunts from European fans, are expected to be paired again after
going 4-1, with two halved, together in Ryder Cup play.
"Having the Cup right now means we have the confidence
in ourselves," Reed said. "We feel great and the guys on the team are
playing really well."
Woods is expected to be paired with rookie Bryson
DeChambeau, the two having found chemistry in numerous practice rounds.
"He is very fiery, very competitive," Woods said.
"We want someone who is fiery, who will bleed red, white and blue. He's
playing great this year and he has been very consistent."
Another expected veteran-rookie duo is 48-year-old
left-hander Mickelson and Tony Finau. They were paired together in a US PGA
playoff event and Finau earned high praise from Mickelson.
Pals Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas are similar players who
already have a tight bond, while reigning PGA Championship and US Open champion
Brooks Koepka could produce a formidable combination as well with former world
number one Dustin Johnson.
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson went 2-1 in 2012 at Medinah
and could unite in yet another strong pairing.
None of them were playing in 1993 at The Belfry, the last
time a US squad won away, and Mickelson realizes for him it's probably now or
"I feel like we have the team. I feel like we have the
leadership, we have the direction and we have the game plan that will allow us
to play our best," he said.
A flop at Gleneagles in 2014 sparked a US revamp of the
Ryder Cup program that produced a 17-11 win in 2016 at Hazeltine. But the acid
test comes in France with Furyk trying to provide the planning and guidance
lacking under Tom Watson in Scotland four years ago.
"I want to make sure our players are very comfortable
with their pairings, that we feel they mesh well together and will play well
together," Furyk said. "I want to give them a heads up. I don't want
to throw them any curveballs when they get to France."