Ryder Cup: Will the force be with the U.S.?

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Ryder Cup: Will the force be with the U.S.?

CHASKA, Minn. – If you think this week’s buildup to the Ryder Cup has been insufferable – with player-on-past-captain crime and a European team member’s brother penning a satirical column – then perhaps you’ve forgotten about the past two years.

Oh, we’ve long since reached the Ryder Cup saturation point.

The task forces and committees and pods and foundations and succession plans – sometimes, it’s hard to remember whether the Americans are trying to win 14 ½ points or stimulate the economy. And the thing is, the game plan all sounds so similar to, well, what Europe has done for years, for decades. Only they don’t require all the pomp and circumstance.

Finally, mercifully, they’ll play golf at 7:35 a.m. local time Friday.

Finally, mercifully, the Americans will put their much-ballyhooed system on display against a European team that, although it returns some of the usual suspects, also features plenty of new faces.

How those six rookies perform likely will swing these matches at Hazeltine. It’s the most first-timers Europe has had on away soil since 1999. That one, remember, didn’t end so well for the visitors.

As for the Americans, there has seemingly been as much focus on the guys with walkie-talkies as the team members with clubs. Tiger Woods is a vice captain. So far this week, he has stood stoically with his earpiece, Secret Service-style, and hustled to retrieve turkey sandwiches. Bubba Watson, the seventh-ranked player in the world, is also an assistant – and the resident cheerleader.

But make no mistake, Phil Mickelson is the alpha dog calling the shots – and he’s even firing them, too.