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Holding down the 10th spot for Europe is Sergio Garcia, whose best finish this year was a tie for third in the Scandinavian Masters. Garcia made his Ryder Cup debut at age 19 in 1999. He missed his first team in Wales two years ago, but jumped in as a vice captain and was as spirited as ever.

“You’ve seen him play a Ryder Cup. He’s a great team player. His spirit is always really good. And in that regard, I think he’s a great asset to the team,” Olazabal said. “He has obviously the experience, the knowledge. He wants to be part of it. It’s true that at the moment, his game is a little bit off. And pairing wise, he’s proved the last few Ryder Cups he can play with anybody, and he’s done well. And I think that’s very important.

“If you are looking at the players to be on your team, Sergio would certainly be one of them for sure.”

Woods is the only American play who mathematically has locked up a spot on the team, though it’s safe to say that two-time winner Jason Dufner, Masters champion Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley, the PGA champion who won last week at Firestone, are safe bets. Behind them are U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Mickelson.

Mickelson is the only player who has not either won multiple times, a major or The Players Championship.

“We have a lot of guys playing very, very well from top to bottom,” Love said.

It would seem this is an especially big week for Mickelson and Mahan to earn a spot on the team, but more for Fowler, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson, two of them might be left off the team. It’s a big turnaround from last time, when no one really stood out as captain’s picks for Corey Pavin except for Woods. Now, Love has too many good players to choose from _ all of them winners this year _ and someone will be deeply disappointed.

Love will not have to announce his captain’s picks until the first week in September, after the second FedEx Cup playoff event. Even if a player like Mickelson doesn’t make the team, he has at least two weeks to show some form. But no one wants to have to wait to be picked if he can help it.

Love will get a close look at Lefty because they are paired the first two days at Kiawah Island. Love was asked if there was a scenario that Mickelson, who has never needed to be a captain’s pick, could be left off the U.S. team.

“I’ve talked to Phil several times this week and watched him play a little bit, and he’s very excited about making the team,” Love said. “I think he and Steve and a lot of guys are trying really hard to make the team, and that might be hurting them a little bit. We have all been there. The last few weeks, you press a little bit, you try a little too hard. I have a feeling that Phil is going to play well sometime in the next three weeks, and it will be back to normal for him.

“It would be hard to play without him,” Love said. “He’s been such a big part of a lot of Ryder Cups in a row.”