By Tony Jimenez

CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - Past U.S. captains Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite and Hal Sutton have told Reuters what they expect from the 41st Ryder Cup matches between holders Europe and the United States at Hazeltine National that begin on Friday:

Ben Crenshaw, captain when the U.S. won at Brookline, Massachusetts in 1999

"Whichever team has a good knowledge of the golf course and how to get themselves round, and visualize how it can play, will do best.

"All the other stuff, you try and get your guys to play the best, but this thing never changes, you've got to play the golf course and get yourself round it the best way you can for you and your partner.

"I think there's a lot to learn on this course. It's been changed quite a bit. Some players have played a major championship here before but this week it's a bit different.

"These are two wonderful teams and it usually boils down to whoever gets the better hand and who holes the most putts.

"Maybe this is the best American team we could assemble right now but we know how the Europeans play, they play great together and they've proved it so many times.

"I know one thing, the Americans are going to have to play at their very best to beat them.

"You are going to see some people who are sixth, seventh, eighth, nine, 10th on the European Tour who are going to do real well because they always do.

"The Americans have got to be ready for that. Europe have six rookies but we've seen similar situations before and they've gone on to play brilliantly.

"The Americans cannot be reticent about that fact, they've got to expect them to play well because they have so many times before."

Tom Kite, captain when the U.S. lost at Valderrama, Spain in 1997

"I'm expecting a great competition. I don't get into guessing or predicting what the outcome is going to be, I leave that to the guys in the media who seem to have all the answers.

"I have been watching the European team out here and there are a lot of guys who are swinging very well.

"Looking at the American team right now, these guys are really, really good players, so it's going to be fun to watch.

"I enjoy watching the sport and just like most previous matches, the Ryder Cup normally comes down to a putt or two.

"It would be great to add some interest with an American win this week but in 2018 there will be a Ryder Cup, in 2020 there will be a Ryder Cup and in 2022 there will be a Ryder Cup.

"To say this is a must-win for America would be a great exaggeration."

Hal Sutton, captain when the U.S. lost at Oakland Hills in Michigan in 2004

"I see it as an exciting week for a lot of people who are out here watching. Who can ever predict a Ryder Cup?

"I gave up on that a long time ago but you can predict this, it will be exciting along the way.

"People will hit shots that they didn't even dream they could hit and they'll do it this week.

"If America lose again it'll be a case of going back to the drawing board. Do they quit? No, they don't quit. It's not a point of no return for them.

"They've tried something different this time. How will it go?, I don't know. We'll find out, but it will be an exciting week, it always is."

(Editing by Larry Fine)