Our experts weigh in on final four U.S. Ryder Cup picks
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Let’s not waste any breath, print or sweat and make this into something it’s not. It’s the easiest set of captain’s picks ever, or so says our senior writer Jim McCabe.
Continues McCabe: Remember when we poked fun at Arnold Palmer as Presidents Cup captain going right down the line and picking Nos. 11 and 12 to round out the team one year? Well, U.S. captain Davis Love III should do similarly. Like I said, simple.
Here are the four picks each of our experts would make on Sept. 4 if they were in Love's shoes:
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JEFF BABINEAU, Editor
STEVE STRICKER: Captain Love wants putters and needs a solid force to put alongside Tiger Woods. 'Nuff said.
HUNTER MAHAN: Two 'W's' in 2012 make him a man you'd want to have on your side in Chicago.
JIM FURYK: He had tough finishes at Olympic and Bridgestone, but his experience (every Ryder/Presidents team since 1997) cannot be undervalued.
RICKIE FOWLER: Barring somebody behind him getting red hot in the next three weeks, he may hold the edge for Love's final pick. His finish in Wales resonates, and did we mention that Captain Love needs putters?
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JIM McCABE, Senior Writer
HUNTER MAHAN: At No. 9 in the standings, he got knocked out when Keegan Bradley won the Bridgestone. One might argue he’s used up his captain’s picks allotment (he already has been picked three times between the Ryder and Presidents Cups), but it’s bizarre that he didn’t finish top eight, what with two wins, one of them a WGC affair. No worries, solid pick here; great driver, solid putter, experienced.
STEVE STRICKER: No. 10 in the standings, all he does every week is show up, play well, and maintain the most classic of professional demeanors. Provides a built-in teammate for Tiger Woods, particularly in four-ball, and it’s unlikely you could find a more well-liked player.
JIM FURYK: True enough, he has squandered chances to win the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational, but there’s a serious case of “he’s earned it” going on here. He has qualified for every Ryder Cup team since 1997, and finishing 11th in the standings shows that he’s still in the mix. Way too much upside to ignore him.
RICKIE FOWLER: OK, we come to the only choice you might wrestle with. Fowler, who was 12th in standings, or Brandt Snedeker (13th), or Bo Van Pelt (14th) or Dustin Johnson (15th) appear to be in the mix for the final spot, though conventional wisdom says it’s Fowler or Johnson. The nod here goes to Fowler, with his playoff win over Rory McIlroy at Quail Hollow and his inspiring finish in singles at the 2010 Ryder Cup huge checks in his column. Yeah, he has been spotty of late, but the kid has “it” – just don’t ask me what “it” is.
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JEFF RUDE, Senior Writer
STEVE STRICKER: Great putter, great partner for Tiger Woods and has been in good form of late. The veteran from Wisconsin, too, has won before in Chicago and is familiar with conditions in the Midwest.
HUNTER MAHAN: Has won twice on the PGA Tour this year, and the U.S. team needs winners. Besides, Mahan is used to the intense team pressure, having played in a string of recent Ryder and Presidents Cup teams.
JIM FURYK: Another veteran you would want on team. Showed he still has game at WGC-Bridgestone, where he finished second after failing to close. Good foursomes partner. Won a U.S. Open in the Chicago area.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Bomber's game would seem to fit at Medinah, which has been described as a maximum-security prison as far as golf courses because of its length and tree-lined fairways. Johnson makes birdies, and birdies tend to matter more in match play. Makes a terrific four-ball partner.
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ALEX MICELI, Senior Writer
STEVE STRICKER: Maybe the best putter on the PGA Tour, and you don't win Ryder Cups without making putts. Stricker also can be paired with anyone, but he is a good fit with Tiger Woods, who is not easy to pair. No doubt that Love will pick Stricker, so the focus should be on the other three.
JIM FURYK: Like Stricker, there is no doubt Love will pick Furyk unless for some reason he is hurt or is not playing well, which is not the case. Furyk came into Australia in last fall's Presidents Cup struggling and then he went out and won five points. Furyk was very close to making the team on points, but it's his leadership that makes the difference and a for-sure Love pick.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Good putters are important, and Snedeker is a very good putter and he has the ability to go low - very low. The Vanderbilt graduate is one of the best players when he gets on a roll, and that is a big positive for a Ryder Cup team.
SCOTT PIERCY: OK, this is out on a limb. I could have picked Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler, but what have any any of them done lately? Piercy almost won in Texas and then won in Canada. Unlike Mahan or Fowler, Piercy made the cut in the PGA, and he has much more game than people give him credit for. He will have to likely win at Barclays or Deutsche Bank, but don't count him out.
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SEAN MARTIN, Managing Editor, Golfweek.com
STEVE STRICKER: Davis Love has mentioned several times how much he likes Stricker's ability to pair with Tiger Woods. This one is a lock.
JIM FURYK: Seems a likely pick for the same reasons as Stricker.
HUNTER MAHAN: Love isn't the only one surprised that a guy who won twice this year didn't make the team. Love likely will make amends by selecting him for the team, giving Mahan an opportunity to make up for 2010's disappointment.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: He was injured for the first part of 2012, giving him fewer opportunities to earn points. Love said he'll take that into consideration when making captain's selections.