The US Ryder Cup team chose Ian Poulter as a target to help quash any European momentum that develops over the three days of competition.
Poulter has been a key figure in Team Europe in recent years, most notably in turning the tide for the continent in an unlikely victory in 2012, later called the Miracle in Medinah.
And US captain Steve Stricker admitted he and his team were looking for ways and the best couples to quash Poulter’s threat.
“We don’t know how to contain it – we’ve had a rough time,” Stricker said of past attempts in previous Ryder Cups. “I faced him in a singles match in Valhalla and lost to him.
“He’s a tough competitor and that brings out the best in him. He seems to be making very crucial putts, hitting crucial shots when he needs them and rising up to the occasion. It looks like he plays the Ryder Cup better than at any PGA Tour event of the year.
“He’s taking his game to another level. He is sometimes a bit the backbone of this team. He would be a great guy if we could find – and we hope we can do that this year – give him a few losses for a change. But it’s hard to do. He’s very tough.
Stricker admitted he informed his team of his planned pairs of foursomes and fourballs as early as Monday in an effort to help identify each player’s roles ahead of the event.
In contrast, his counterpart, Padraig Harrington kept his cards closer to his chest although he spoke favorably of Poulter and his two other Ryder Cup picks in Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry.
Lowry was selected at the expense of a fit Justin Rose, but Harrington insisted his close friend and fellow Irishman would prove his worth in the coming days.
“He kisses her,” said Harrington of Lowry. “I’m very happy with the way he’s doing it. He’s the kind of guy who delivers on the big stage, so I’m looking forward to that this week.
Lowry is one of three rookies to the European squad and, although he needs a wildcard to secure the selection, having narrowly missed the automatic selection, he said he felt out of place among the 12 European Ryder Cup players.
“I was very close to being part of the team,” he said. “I was the first man out, so I felt I deserved to do it. So, I feel like I deserved to be here. If I didn’t feel like I deserved to be here it would probably be a little different. I am delighted to be here. It’s everything I expected and more.
“I think I will have a big role to play in this team this week. I just have to be myself. If I’m just myself this week, I think it’ll be good enough.