Picking Fowler makes sense for Ryder Cup
Alex Miceli explains why Corey Pavin went with safe picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Final Ryder Cup points
1.) Phil Mickelson (6,095.06)
2.) Hunter Mahan (4,095.62)
3.) Bubba Watson (3,894.32)
4.) Jim Furyk (3,763.64)
5.) Steve Stricker (3,697.98)
6.) Dustin Johnson (3,573.80)
7.) Jeff Overton (3,533.15)
8.) Matt Kuchar (3,415.85)
DID NOT QUALIFY
9.) Anthony Kim (3,274.68)
10.) Lucas Glover (3,052.87)
11.) x-Zach Johnson (3,051.90)
12.) x-Tiger Woods (2,902.58)
13.) Bo Van Pelt (2,662.23)
14.) x-Stewart Cink (2,644.83)
15.) Ben Crane (2,629.80)
16.) Ricky Barnes (2,610.17)
17.) Nick Watney (2,557.44)
18.) Sean O'Hair (2,417.57)
19.) J.B. Holmes (2,390.71)
20.) x-Rickie Fowler (2,353.32)
21.) Ryan Palmer (2,276.38)
22.) Ryan Moore (2,136.10)
23.) Jason Bohn (1,817.24)
24.) Kenny Perry (1,790.83)
25.) Scott Verplank (1,756.60)
Note: x-captain’s pick
And the happiest person on the U.S. Ryder Cup team is . . . Bubba Watson.
When you’re a guy who wields a pink-shafted driver, what will make you feel like you have company in a team setting is a pal who dresses up like an orange.
Fowler was a safe pick for Pavin, mostly because none of the other candidates – Ben Crane, Lucas Glover, Sean O’Hair, J.B. Holmes, Ryan Palmer and Justin Leonard – had consistently stepped up with any sort of tenacity.
Please. If he had been chosen, it would have been laughable. What’s next, a one-day, 36-hole qualifier at Bermuda Dunes, for goodness sakes? Bless his golden locks, Hoffman was brilliant Monday at TPC Boston – his 62 wasn’t on par with Rory McIlroy’s 62 at Quail Hollow earlier this year, but it was scintillating stuff. Only his play has been so spotty in 2010 that he did not quaify for a major and, in fact, he has played in exactly two majors in three years.
Translation: He got hot at a convenient time, but is that how you want to pick your Ryder Cup team? Of course not. To suggest that Hoffman was hot on Sept. 6 in a cozy U.S. confine that was warm, firm and fast and thus will be again Oct. 1-3 in a hostile territory that will be cold, wet and slow is so utterly nonsensical that to tweet, blog or criticize it (that’s you, Paul Azinger) is to introduce yourself as someone with self-serving interests.
Weeks ago, Pavin was put in a position where he had to look for experience. Four qualifiers – Watson, Matt Kuchar, Jeff Overton, Dustin Johnson – have never played in a Ryder Cup, and all of them have shown a jumpiness when they get in the hunt at big events. So turning to Tiger Woods (five Ryder Cups, six Presidents Cups), Stewart Cink (four Ryder Cups, four Presidents Cups), and Zach Johnson (one Ryder Cup, two Presidents Cups) to complement the veteran qualifiers (Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan) was a no-brainer for Pavin.
The trick was the 12th and final pick, and it appears that Fowler edged Holmes.
“He’s deserving,” Pavin said. He then conceded that a lot of guys were deserving, so come on, why?
“It came down to a feeling. I have a gut feeling about Rickie.”
Pavin apparently feels that Fowler’s youthfulness and energy will rub off in the team room. Fowler, 21, is great friends with Watson, and you can’t brush that aside, especially since Pavin seemingly has ready-made pairings.
Woods and Stricker should be a lock, no matter what the format. (Don’t fumble that one, Corey, and over-think it.) Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, especially in four-ball, seems a delicious entry. Furyk, Cink, Mahan, Kuchar and Zach Johnson offer personalities that are so similar that they are easily mixed and matched.
Watson seemed to be the tough fit, a nervous type who apparently is at ease alongside Fowler. They are a pink and orange team that often gets together for video games, skate-boarding and practice rounds where Watson plays right-handed and Fowler left-handed.
It would not be a shock to see them paired in Wales, even if it’s for one four-ball match.
If there’s a disconcerting string regarding Fowler, it’s this: “He hasn’t won (on the PGA Tour),” said a veteran American player. “I have a hard time with that.”
So do I.
But when you look at those kept to the American sidelines and realize how pedestrian they have played this year, it’s easy to accept Fowler. This captain’s pick will not splinter team morale, not to the degree that Colin Montgomerie’s choices are still being scrutinized in Europe.
When it comes to the captain’s picks phase of the competition, give Pavin and the Americans an edge.
Whether that matters in the end remains to be seen.