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Confident Lee Westwood says pressure is on U.S. at Ryder Cup

Lee Westwood is playing for Europe in his 10th consecutive Ryder Cup dating to 1997. He's been on the winning side seven times. Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

CHASKA, Minn. -- Lee Westwood has seen a little bit of everything -- mostly success -- in nine previous Ryder Cup appearances for Europe.

The Englishman has played on seven winning teams and gone 20-15-6 in his matches. This year he needed an at-large pick from good friend Darren Clarke, the European captain, to make the team.

And given all the changes made by the Americans leading up to the 41st Ryder Cup, Westwood feels the pressure will be clearly on the opposition when matches begin Friday morning at Hazeltine National.

"We take a lot of pride in that, that the USA are taking it so seriously to bring this task force together and bring Davis [Love III] in as captain again," Westwood said. "We take a lot of pride in that. Gives us a lot of confidence and puts added pressure on them.

"You form a task force and it doesn't go right this week, where do you go from there? You've done pretty much all you can do. So we'll see how that goes."

The U.S. formed a Ryder Cup task force in the aftermath of a third straight defeat two years ago at Gleneagles. It was the sixth loss in the past seven Ryder Cups and the eighth in the past 10.

The idea was to get the players more involved, tweak the points formula and put forth a system of continuity that can be built on for future Ryder Cups in terms of assistants and captains.

The task force was disbanded when Love was named captain in February of 2015. It has been replaced by a committee consisting of Love, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and three PGA of America executives with the idea of having a system in place for the future.

"It's very much like the model the Europeans have done with tremendous success in bringing out their best golf, and I give them a lot of credit in their ability to lift each other up to great heights," Mickelson said of the U.S. changes. "To play some of their best golf together in these events, and when you get together as a team and work together, you can achieve much greater success than you ever can as an individual. And we've seen that for decades from the European side."

Mickelson and J.B. Holmes are the only members of the U.S. side this year to have played on a winning Ryder Cup team. Westwood is among six European players who have been on a winning team, although the squad is filled out by six Ryder Cup rookies.

"It fills us with a lot of confidence," Westwood said. "A lot of the players on the European side have had multiple experiences of winning Ryder Cups. And on the other side of that, on the U.S. team, a lot of their players have had multiple experiences of losing Ryder Cups. Winning is a habit, and a lot of the players on the European team have that habit and know what the experience is like and what to do."