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Hal Sutton already gearing up for Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup is clearly the only thing on U.S. captain Hal Sutton's mind even though the competition against Europe is still six months away.

Playing this week in the Honda Classic, Sutton is already focused on bringing the cup back to the U.S when the teams meet at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in September.

The U.S. has not fared well in the last four Ryder Cups, winning only the 1999 competition at The Country Club.

"One of the things that's been missing for the American players is that we're so busy in our world that we kind of get to the Ryder Cup and we think, 'Oh, yeah, that's right we are playing the Ryder Cup this week'," Sutton said.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to keep that from happening this year. We are going to talk about this every time I get a chance to talk about it to one of them."

Sutton's first challenge as captain was to get world number one Tiger Woods more involved. It has taken many conversations and meetings with him but Sutton feels Woods is firmly ready to step forward and take his position as a leader of the team.

"I think Tiger has accepted the challenge that I threw out there: be the quarterback of this team, be the number one player in the world that you are, even during the week of the Ryder Cup," Sutton said.

"Tiger's going to be ready. I can tell you right now. He's engaged."

With Woods in his corner, Sutton has now started focusing on the rest of the potential team. Over the last three weeks, he has sent personalised letters to the top 25 on the U.S. team points standings, encouraging them and keeping the Ryder Cup at the front of their minds.

"I want everybody to be aware of the Ryder Cup six and eight months out," Sutton said.

"Hey, we are going to have that tournament in September and it's a biggy and I want to be ready. The only way that I can do that is to talk about it. It's got to be a goal. It's got to be something that they are looking forward to rather than dreading."

Sutton has played with many of the potential team members during the year and has spoken with others on the list.

While the decision on whom he will pick for the two captains choices will be difficult, the criteria he will use, not only during the selection process, but also in determining who will play is straightforward.

"In 1999, I went to Ben Crenshaw and I said, 'Let's do something different this year than we've ever done. Let's play to win,'" Sutton said.

"I personally think that maybe we have not been as prepared before we got to the Ryder Cup. I don't know if that's the fault of a captain or anybody else, that's just the way it's been."

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