Paul Azinger has asked the player who has summed up recent American failure better than any other to lead off their campaign to avoid a fourth Ryder Cup defeat.
In the absence of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson will have the onus of inspiring his country to conquer the odds against an imposing Europe team.
That much became clear when the American captain resisted the urge to begin this morning’s foursomes with the two Kentuckians, Kenny Perry and JB Holmes.
While the temptation must have been great to whip the crowd into the instant frenzy many believe is critical if the outsiders are to prevail, Azinger has recognised the gamble it could have been to expose the local boys.
Padraig Harrington, the back-to-back major champion, and Robert Karlsson, the big-hitting Swede, would not have feared Perry and Holmes. Mickelson and the brilliant young Anthony Kim, however, could be another matter.
They possess an overload of talent that could get their side off to the quick beginning that may prove so crucial.
It is an incredible and telling stat that America has not held the lead after any session since their victory in 1999. In each of the last three matches they have been put to the sword on the Friday morning and continue to bleed all over the European parade thereafter.
They have shown themselves to be miserably unable of launching any sort of fight back and there is no reason for believing they could this time around.
In fact, with a team containing six rookies and more ordinary run-of-the-multi-millionaire players than perhaps any Stars and Stripes team in the Cup’s history the necessity for momentum straight from the very off seems more marked than ever.
There is a clear and present danger that if they are toppled before lunchtime they will once again be rolled over.
Nick Faldo will be confident of his men grabbing that all-important early lead. Harrington is playing the Colin Montgomerie role and the hottest player of 2008 will be entrusted in snuffing out the challenge of Mickelson.
In the second foursomes, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey could have too much armoury for the veteran Justin Leonard and the rookie Hunter Mahan.
Third up, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose will be aware that Stewart Cink is a proven Ryder Cup performer but that Chad Campbell is not.
Last up, it would be a surprise if Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood do not have the wherewithal to see off Jim Furyk and Perry.
Saying that, there is hope for Azinger, as there always must be for the underdogs in a contest as blessedly unpredictable as the Ryder Cup.
Whatever he might claim, Faldo’s captaincy has not gone well in the build-up. Cracks have appeared in a facade that has always been unashamedly certain of its own imperiousness and the media have inevitably turned against him.
Faldo’s terrible handing of Wednesday incidents, in which a list of his foursomes pairings he was holding was photographed for the world to ingest, stunk of an ego that could threaten the renowned Europe chemistry.
His baffling exclusion of Darren Clarke had already shook the equilibrium of both the camaraderie and the balance of the obvious partnerships.
Many saw that as Faldo simply being Faldo, but the point surely is that Faldo has to be something he has never been before. He has found that impossible and if it all starts to go wrong how will this born winner inspire a side who could start to feel like a bunch of losers?