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U.S. Ryder Cup team complete

• Rude: ’Zinger did the best he could with captain’s picks
• Tait: Top 10 Ryder Cup riddles from the European side

By ALEX MICELI
Golfweek contributor

NORTON, MASS. – Not until the final putt dropped at TPC Boston on Monday did U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger make his decision on Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, Kentuckian J.B. Holmes and Chad Campbell as captain’s selections.

Azinger made it official Sept. 2 announcement in New York.

Azinger said he struggled to decide on one last “hot golfer.” Getting players in form was why Azinger persuaded PGA of America officials to alter and extend the Ryder Cup selection process in November 2006.

Three of the four selections were high on the revised Ryder Cup points list that Azinger continued to keep after his first eight players locked up spots following the PGA Championship.

Stricker, who tied for 13th at the Deutsche Bank Championship, finished eighth in Ryder Cup points through Boston, actually passing automatic-selection Boo Weekley. Mahan, who played in last year’s Presidents Cup, was 10th. Holmes, who has more knowledge of Valhalla than anyone in this year’s Ryder Cup, ranked 16th.

The final decision came down to two players with Ryder Cup experience: Scott Verplank and Campbell.

Among the captain’s picks, Campbell had the best finish at the DBC, tied for seventh with a final-round 66.

“The (first three) selections were surprisingly easy for me,” Azinger said Monday evening from the “war room” in New York. “No one won a (post-PGA) tournament, with all the events won by foreign players. I picked Steve Stricker due to his superior statistics, Holmes because of his length and knowledge of Valhalla, and Mahan because he could have played his way out if he played poorly, but he didn’t.”

Mahan, 26, tied for 15th at the Deutsche Bank and opened The Barclays by shooting 62.

Azinger will be bound for Kentucky with six Ryder Cup rookies.

“We got a lot of deserving players on this team,” Azinger told Golfweek Sept. 1. “Can we prepare properly and succeed? That’s what we need to find out.”

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