Garcia already in Ryder Cup mindset in Portugal

Garcia is the highest-ranked player in the field at the Portugal Masters

Garcia is the highest-ranked player in the field at the Portugal Masters

It brought Mickelson and Tiger Woods closer together in the search for a winning formula. It led to players having more input in picking their captain and forming their team. The hope was that it would create more continuity.

Yet Europe boast the newly-installed world number one in Ryder Cup stalwart Justin Rose along with Rory McIlroy (five), Francesco Molinari (six), Jon Rahm (seven) and Tommy Fleetwood (12) so it is not exactly a David and Goliath contest.

Now comes the real test.

"I've been there a number of times, usually the South of France", Woods said.

Quoteworthy: "We wanted to have a winning record in 10 Ryder Cups over 20 years". That math is pretty simple. You have to win on the road. Eventually, we're going to have to do that. "We have our first opportunity this year".

"I probably took eight or nine days off without any golf, so obviously started the middle of last week to get back into it and I'm slowly getting back into the rhythm and hopefully can be fully ready (today)". In his 25 years of playing the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has had 55 teammates and 15 playing partners.

So what's the reason why Ryder Cups in Europe are typically held at such courses and resorts and not, say, St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf? "It will be exciting in France to see him there".

The September 28-30 showdown in France pits Woods and eight other USA major champions against a European side with five major winners and just as many Cup newcomers in its 12-player line-up.

The 2017 Masters champion will be playing in the event for the ninth time and has the all-time points record for Europe in his sights.

It's a strong team, no doubt.

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"I was just so apprehensive to start letting it go", Woods recalled.

They had two previous chances to end this European streak. And in 2010 at rain-plagued Celtic Manor, the Americans lost five of six matches - the other was halved - to fall too far behind to catch up in singles. He has never won a PGA Tour money title, a FedEx Cup or a scoring title.

It will be the same at the Golf National Course to the west of Paris from September 28-30 - but only just. Located southwest of central Paris, it has hosted the French Open 26 times. Your team can look great on paper.

Captain Thomas Bjorn has also plumped for experience over form with his wildcards as Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter have been at the heart of so many European successes over the last few years.

"He just brings something special", Denmark's Bjorn said. "So does the American team", Sweden's Henrik Stenson said. I understand that I was sick, losing 25lbs, so my golf at the time wasn't as good as it needed to be.

Mickelson has been part of the Ryder Cup for so long that he made his debut at Oak Hill in 1995 in a fourballs session that included Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer. To pick a favourite Ryder Cup memory is hard, but to pick a favourite venue or course is significantly harder.

Jim Furyk's men know taking down the 38-year-old Rose will offer an extra bounty, rather than just a single point.

But the US squad is deeper on paper, and all the years of getting dominated by Europe has seemed to rekindle the U.S.'s fire to do well in the Ryder Cup. So is Steve Stricker, the captain of the Presidents Cup team past year. Woods and Furyk were vice captains a year ago.

For a guy whose career was built upon high-risk shots, no risk was greater than speaking out publicly after the 2014 loss in Scotland against one of the game's most popular figures - Tom Watson - and criticizing the PGA of America for going away from a formula that worked.

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