MEDINAH, Ill. -- There seems little rhyme or reason a guy with 14 major titles carries a losing Ryder Cup record and has watched Europe pop champagne five of the six times he has teed it up in the biennial matches.
Tiger Woods, however, is willing to shoulder the burden.
"Certainly I'm responsible for that," Woods said earlier this week, "because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for."
In 29 career Ryder Cup matches, Woods has earned only 14 points for the Americans. Take away his 4-1-1 record in singles, and his work in paired matches is an even more dismal 9-13-1.
The only time he has been on a winning team came in 1999, when Ben Crenshaw's side pulled off the stunning "Miracle at Brookline." Woods missed the most recent U.S. success in 2008, when he was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.
All of which frames a chicken-or-egg question: Have Woods' struggles caused the Americans to lose, or do they merely reflect Europe's dominance?
"Match play is just so different," U.S. captain Davis Love III said. "Tiger can play great and his partner not play well, or the other team (can) play extremely well. There's probably a lot of times where it's just a matter of who you're up against."
Colin Montgomerie, Europe's bellwether in the last decade, owns six wins against Woods. Lee Westwood has five.
Woods has been matched with 12 partners. The longest tenure belongs to Jim Furyk (2-2). Current sidekick Steve Stricker, who first took on the role at the 2009 Presidents Cup, went 2-1 with Woods in Wales two years ago.
"Somebody has to play in Tiger's bubble," said Love, referring to the masses that follow any group featuring Woods. "You have to be a special guy to be able to handle that."
"They're all playing well," Love said.
Play begins at Medinah Country Club with four matches of foursomes (alternate shot). There will be four more matches of fourballs (better ball) in the afternoon and four matches of each Saturday. The cup will be decided Sunday with 12 singles matches.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and countryman Graeme McDowell will be first off the tee Friday against Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.
Woods and Stricker are paired against Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
Sergio Garcia, who has not lost in nine foursomes matches is paired with Luke Donald against Americans Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.
Also, Europe's Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari will take on Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.
He already has won two majors, with a record score in the U.S. Open last year at Congressional and a record margin at the PGA Championship last month at Kiawah Island. His four wins this year are the most of anyone in the world, all against the strongest fields.
So it was no surprise when Furyk referred to the 23-year-old as the "present day Tiger Woods" and a "marked man" at this Ryder Cup.
"This week I'm not the No. 1 player in the world," McIlroy said. "I'm one person in a 12-man team, and that's it. It's a team effort. There's 12 guys all striving toward the same goal. I'm just part of that."
"I'm very, very competitive," Snedeker said. "People don't get that, because I'm polite. But I tee it up on Friday here -- tee it up against anybody -- I'm going to try to beat their brains in as bad as I can."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.