Rory McIlroy's Europe will defend the Ryder Cup against Tiger Woods and the United States at the Medinah Country Club outside Chicago next week in what has become golf's most spectacular event.
The world's top two players have been the focus of attention this week at the season-ending Tour Championship event in Atlanta with comments from Greg Norman that McIlroy intimidated Woods stirring the pot.
The Northern Irishman, who won his second major in August at the PGA Championship, and has won back-to-back tournaments in the FedEx Cup playoffs, was dismissive of the Australian great's comments.
"How can I intimidate Tiger Woods?" he said. "The guy's got 75 or 70 whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 majors.
"He's been the biggest thing ever in our sport. I mean, how can some little 23-year-old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him? It's just not possible.
"I don't know where he got that from, but it's not true."
For his part Woods was predictably circumspect. "It's got to be the hair, yeah," he said jokingly, referring to McIlroy's tangled mop of curls.
Whatever the case might be, the two will undoubtedly be the headliners going into what will be the 39th playing of the Ryder Cup since its inception in 1927.
It could well be of course that, like at Celtic Manor, Newport two years ago, Woods and McIlroy will never meet on the course.
But, should the contest go down to the wire, as it did in Wales, and should captains Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal both select their respective talismen to anchor their 12 singles slots, the stage would be set for a clash of titanic dimensions.
Of course, as every past and present-day player will confirm, the Ryder Cup, in stark contrast to the rest of golf, is a team contest and one that has soared to towering heights since Great Britain and Ireland became Europe 33 years ago.
Europe have bossed the event for the last 17 years, winning six out of eight editions and four out of the last five, including a thrilling 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 triumph at Celtic Manor to regain the trophy.
The US line-up looks strong with 10 of their players ranking in the world top 20. But tellingly none of them – including Woods and Phil Mickelson – have a winning record in Ryder Cup play.
In contrast, eight of the 12 Europeans enjoy winning records led by Ryder Cup stalwart Lee Westwood who in seven previous appearances has won 16, halved six and lost 11.
Spain's Sergio Garcia, Englishmen Ian Poulter and Luke Donald and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, who supplied the winning point in the final matchup against Hunter Mahan two years ago, are all Ryder Cup specialists.
The only rookie in the side is big-hitting Nicolas Colsaerts who becomes the first Belgian to play in the contest, having been chosen by Olazabal as one of his two wild cards.
The US side, in contrast, has four rookies in Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker with Love calling up veterans Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker as wild cards to lend some experience alongside Woods and Mickelson.
Many feel that the new generation of American players coming through could tilt the Ryder Cup balance back the US way, although the victorious Europe captain from two years ago, Colin Montgomerie, is not so sure.
"There has been a lot of talk this year of a new generation of assured American players, but there's a bit of swagger about this European team as well," the Scot said.
"There's a bit of attitude there – players such as Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia aren't exactly shrinking violets – and they'll need it in an environment where the US crowd will crank up the atmosphere to fever pitch."
The teams will arrive at Chicago on Monday with the first practice rounds taking place early Tuesday when the cat-and-mouse game of divining who is likely to be paired with who for Thursday's opening foursomes and four-balls will begin.
Olazabal will no doubt be ultra-cautious to avoid following in the footsteps of Nick Faldo, the Europe Team captain the last time the event was held in the United States at Valhalla, Kentucky four years ago.
On that occasion the six-time major winner was snapped by an alert photographer holding a piece of paper with his players' initials on it.
To all intents and purposes it was his musings over who should play with who, although he comically suggested that it was in fact nothing other than a sandwich list he had drawn up.
It should also become quickly clear what kind of crowds will make their way to the course outside Chicago - a city known for the robustness and enthusiasm of its sports fans.
In contrast to the rowdy scenes that marred the 1999 tournament in Brookline, Massachusetts, recent Ryder Cups in the United States, like at Valhalla in 2008, have been noisy and nationalistic - but largely respectful of the European team.