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The talking has nearly (and mercifully) stopped. The show is almost here. The 2023 Ryder Cup is about to start.

But before it does, we need to look at the United States' path to 14 points, which would retain the Cup for the Americans, and Europe's avenue to 14.5 points, which they will need to win back the Cup and continue their dominant stretch of three decades worth of victories at home.

While these weeks never go exactly as they were planned out by the captains, there seem to be a handful of paths for the U.S. and Europe to get to their respective benchmarks. Not all of them will pan out, but if a few of them do, then either Zach Johnson will accomplish what nobody has accomplished since 1993 and win a Ryder Cup in Europe or Luke Donald will add to a 30-year home winning streak.

U.S. path to victory

Kyle Porter, senior golf writer

1. Win three points in foursomes: If that sounds like a lowly goal over the course of eight matches, consider the fact that the U.S. has only won two foursomes points in the last two European Ryder Cups combined. If they can analytics their way to three points, they should have the horses to at least split in the four-ball matches and get to Sunday tied or close to it. If you get to Sunday tied or at least close to it, your talent should win the day and the Ryder Cup.

2. Find somebody to handle the hot hand: The last two Ryder Cups in Europe -- Gleneagles in 2014 and Paris in 2018 -- have been dominated by two pairings. The first was Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, who went 3-0-0 together at Gleneagles. The second was Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who went 4-0-0 together at Le Golf National. Those duos contributed more than points, though. They both contributed a charge for their teams to rally around and ultimate win behind. Identifying these pairings usually isn't too difficult, but picking the right matchup to quell them often is.

3. Drive the ball very well: I walked Marco Simone for a few hours on Wednesday, and it is extraordinarily narrow in some spots. However, the European side has also removed a lot of the nasty, unplayable rough that had become a bit of its identity. Even as recently as two weeks ago, rough existed that was chopped down since implying that they're OK with turning this into a driving contest. That's not unreasonable, either, as the Euros have arguably the three best drivers in the world in Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland. Whether the U.S. side matches this firepower off the tee remains to be seen, but the good news for them is that they have the talent to do so.

The other part of this that intrigues me is that Max Homa talked about how he played the course a few weeks ago yet picked the wrong club off the tee a lot in his first round there. I saw players hit 3-woods on holes on wihch I presumed they would use driver. Good decision making off the tee is part of driving the ball well, and it will be interesting to hear how each team thinks about that strategy during this event.

4. Withstand the momentum: One thing Collin Morikawa said Wednesday stuck with me. There are going to be a lot of birdies. There are short par 5s and drivable par 4s all over the place, especially on the back nine. You're probably going to see some super-emotional swings that the U.S. is going to have to fight its way through. The Americans seem to know this going into the event; however, it's something that's easy to talk about but difficult to do when it's actually happening.

5. Protect Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas: As good as they have been at the last two Ryder Cups, it's OK if they don't have the goods at this one. There's nothing to prove with J.T. here, and the U.S. has the depth to not have to roll them out four times in the team portion of the event. If Wyndham Clark and Sam Burns or Rickie Fowler and Brian Harman are where the points come from, they count the same as they would if they came from J.T. What absolutely cannot happen is they keep getting rolled out and keep getting lit up by the Europeans. Then taking down that duo would become Europe's rallying cry, and the event would be all but over.

6. Close: I'm convinced that this is going to be the closest Ryder Cup -- for the entirety of the week -- since maybe 2002 when the teams were tied 8-8 after entering Sunday singles when Europe pulled away late. Brooks Koepka talked about the pressure of wanting the ball late on Sunday, which is something I think is going to truly be in play with an hour left in the event.

Europe's path to victory

Patrick McDonald, golf writer

1. Ride your three horses: Three of the top four players in the Official World Golf Rankings belong to the Europeans with those being McIlroy, Rahm and Hovland. While Marco Simone may force Donald's hand in terms of resting players, these three players should see a minimum of 13 combined matches. It is true the back half of this Europe team is miles better than the 2021 version, but so are the players at the top, so why not use them as much as possible.

2. Get meaningful contribution from an Englishman: They make up a third of the team and two of them have stellar Ryder Cup records while the other two do not. Justin Rose represents the oldest man in the competition and holds a foursomes record of 7-2-1, while Tommy Fleetwood stole the show in his debut in 2018. Meanwhile, Matt Fitzpatrick has yet to earn a point in two Ryder Cup appearances, and Tyrrell Hatton has a career record of 2-4-1. All four have the capability to rise to the occasion, and if one of them is able to turn their big three into a big four, the U.S. will be in trouble.

3. Lean into the home crowd: It's an advantage for a reason. Join in on the viking clap, wave your fist in the air when your playing partner makes a big putt, pump up the crowd when you are sitting out a session and following along. Soak up all the emotion. The European fans are some of the best in all of sport, and there is no doubt their players will ride the extra adrenaline and cheers when needed.

4. Win the opening session: Donald's decision to move foursomes to the opening session may have been a ploy to let his young players ease into the Ryder Cup. He'll have his top eight players on the course Friday morning, and they will need to produce a winning session in a format they have dominated at home (12-2-2 in the last two Ryder Cups in Europe). It sounds simple, but an early lead is crucial for both the team and the home crowd.

5. Attack the U.S. buddy system: A jolt of confidence after beating a Thomas and Spieth pair or a Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele duo would be felt throughout the entire team. Not only would it galvanize the squad, but it would make Johnson think about diverting from his original game plan and might even cause him to split up his experienced couples. While captains can't match up who they want to play against each other, they have a good idea of which opposing team will occupy which slot in the line up. If Donald can win this game of Battleship and call out the American's pieces, his destroyers have the firepower to sink the U.S. warships.