Ian Woosnam believes there are good reasons to be cheerful in this Ryder Cup year.
The European team captain has been delighted by the form of Henrik Stenson and Nick Dougherty. Swedish star Stenson finished tied third in the Players Championship at Sawgrass and heads the Ryder Cup world points list.
Dougherty came fourth in the TCL Classic after being runner-up at the Indonesian Open. He will be closely scrutinised by Woosnam in the next few days as both men are taking part in the Portugal Open, which starts here today.
Woosnam said: "We have some great players, so it should be a very exciting team.
"I am not surprised by Stenson's progress. He has played some fantastic golf the last months.
"He says that by his standards he has not been playing very well. It shows the strength of his game, chipping and putting, has kept him in there.
"When you are a great player that is what you can do."
Woosnam has seen a change in attitude from 23-year-old Dougherty, the former Walker Cup star.
"He has really knuckled down," said the Welshman. "He is saying 'This is where I want to get to. This is what I have to do'.
"Nick has realised that and is starting to show his potential."
Dougherty said: "My form has been fine and I have had a really good start with five top ten finishes.
"But it is all about course management here as there is so much trouble on the course.
"You just need to stick to your game plan if you are to be successful."
While Stenson and Dougherty are both in tremendous form, Colin Montgomerie has missed four successive cuts.
Woosnam is not too concerned and is banking on the Scot to turn the corner. He said: "We are just beginning the season and there are some big tournaments to come.
"He is having a little bit of a bad spell now and hopefully he will return to form as the Ryder Cup approaches."
Woosnam is confident he will have the right mindset in the build-up to September's match against the United
States at the K Club near Dublin after using stress-reducing techniques.
The HeartMath system is a programme created in California after a 15-year study into ways of reducing anxiety and improving personal performance.
Woosnam said: "It has made a difference already - I cannot get up in the morning.
"I am not jumping around and not as uptight as I used to be.
"When you are relaxed you make better decisions. I went along to see what the programme was about and it is very useful for everyone, especially people in high profile jobs.
"You learn about breathing techniques and it is all about making you healthier."
Atherstone's Paul Broadhurst is among those in the Algarve this week, seeking to retain the title he won last year. That success, the fifth European Tour title of his career, came at the expense of his good friend Barry Lane and there will another strong field this year.
Among it will be South Staffordshire's Peter Baker, Atherstone-born Steve Webster, John Bickerton of Droitwitch, Robert Rock and Tom Whitehouse of the De Vere Belfry and Monmouth's David