Ryder Cup: A look at the six wild-card candidates
Wonder if Davis Love III is wrestling over his four captain's picks tonight? Here are six candidates that we know are on his radar, giving you all the information you could need to know about Davis Love’s potential six selections (listed in alphabetical order) and an instant reaction from each player after Monday's round at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
From our expert crew on the ground, Steve Stricker and Brandt Snedeker are unanimous choices, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan were chosen by three of the four panelists, Dustin Johnson by two and Rickie Fowler was shut out.
• • •
• Official World Golf Ranking: 23
• Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 32
• Recent finishes: MC, PGA Championship; T-24, The Barclays; T-74, Deutsche Bank Championship
• By the numbers: Driving distance (293.9 yards, 53rd); Driving accuracy (64.7%, 42nd); Greens in regulation (64.8%, 82nd); Strokes gained-putting (-.143, 132nd)
• The skinny: Love is looking at Fowler for many of the same reasons that led Corey Pavin to pick Fowler for the last Ryder Cup. Fowler is well-liked by his fellow players and viewed as an exciting player who could add some pizzazz to the team. Love remembers well Fowler’s rally to halve his 2010 singles match with Edoardo Molinari. Fowler made birdies on the final four holes to keep Team USA’s hopes alive. Fowler’s recent struggles – he didn’t break par in a single round at the Deutsche Bank Championship – don’t help his cause, though.
• Ryder Cup record: 0-1-2
• Singles: 0-0-1
• Foursomes: 0-0-1
• Four-balls: 0-1-0
• International teams: Ryder Cup (1), 2010; Walker Cup (2), 2007, 2009.
• Staffers to pick candidate: None.
• • •
This is the last day to impress Davis Love III. How do you think you have done over the last few weeks to make a good impression?
"Last week didn't help my cause. I missed the cut by one at the Barclays, but I feel like I played solid this week. I didn't get a lot out of a couple of rounds, especially Thursday and today. But I think 6‑under yesterday felt good. I know they want some hot players, they want some guys that are playing well, and I guess guys like Strick and I are going to be hopeful that they also want some battled veterans and guys that have been there before."
• Official World Golf Ranking: 31
• Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking:: 14
• Recent finishes: T-42, PGA Championship; MC, The Barclays; T-13, Deutsche Bank Championship
• By the numbers: Driving distance (280.1 yards, 174th); Driving accuracy (70.1%, 5th); Greens in regulation (66.5%, 40th); Strokes gained-putting (.457, 24th)
• The skinny: Love likes Furyk for his experience and compatibility. “You can put him with anybody,” Love said after the PGA Championship. Furyk has represented the United States in every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup since 1997; he was 5-0-0 in the United States’ victory at last year’s Presidents Cup. His Ryder Cup record is an uninspiring 8-15-4, though that’s mostly due to an abysmal 1-8-1 four-balls record. Furyk hasn’t won in 2012, but had close calls at the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. One can look at those events as evidence of his good form, or as proof that he’s having trouble handling pressure. Furyk was tied for the lead when he bogeyed two of the final three holes at Olympic Club. He had a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole at Firestone, but made double-bogey to finish one shot behind Keegan Bradley.
• Ryder Cup record: 8-15-4
• Singles record: 4-2-1
• Foursomes record: 3-5-2
• Four-balls record: 1-8-1
• International teams: Ryder Cup (7), 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010; The Presidents Cup (7), 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011; World Cup (1), 2003.
• Staffers to pick candidate: Alex Miceli, Jim McCabe, Jeff Babineau.
• • •
Are you nervous (about the selection)?
"A little bit. I really want to play on the team. I really think that I can help the team, and it's something that I really enjoy doing, so hopefully Captain Love will pick me."
• Official World Golf Ranking: 16
• Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking:: 25
• Recent finishes: T-48, PGA Championship; T-3, The Barclays; T-4, Deutsche Bank Championship
• By the numbers: Driving distance (309.5 yards, 7th); Driving accuracy (56.3%, 157th); Greens in regulation (64.3%, 95th); Strokes gained-putting (.160, 69th)
• The skinny: Johnson was one of the top contenders for a captain’s pick after the PGA Championship, then made a strong case for his selection with top-4 finishes in the first two FedEx Cup playoff events. Johnson’s length would be an asset at Medinah, a big course where Johnson will be able to use his length. “I'm not a fan, as my son says, of deep rough,” Love said. “So we won't have really, really deep rough.” Johnson has a combined 2-6-1 record in his two international appearances as a professional (2010 Ryder Cup, 2011 Presidents Cup), but his recent play may be strong enough for Love to overlook that blemish.
• Ryder Cup record: 1-3-0
• Singles record: 1-0-0
• Foursomes: 0-1-0
• Four-balls: 0-2-0
• International teams: Ryder Cup (1), 2010; The Presidents Cup (1), 2011; Walker Cup (1), 2007; Palmer Cup (1), 2007.
• Staffers to pick candidate: Sean Martin, Jeff Babineau.
• • •
Is the Ryder Cup a weight on your shoulders? Did that add any pressure this week?
"Yeah, shoot, I mean, you want to make the team. It's plain and simple, it's not like you can just forget about it. It's not like it's not there and not going to impact you."
• Official World Golf Ranking: 18
• Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 18
• Recent finishes: MC, PGA Championship; MC, The Barclays; T-39, Deutsche Bank Championship.
• By the numbers: Driving distance (293.5 yards, 58th); Driving accuracy (68.2%, 12th); Greens in regulation (69.1%, 6th); Strokes gained-putting (-.046, 113th)
• The skinny: Mahan is hoping for a chance to make amends for the last Ryder Cup, when he lost the final match against Graeme McDowell to allow Europe to claim the Cup. He’ll have to turn around his recent form, though. He missed the cut at both the PGA Championship and The Barclays. Mahan won twice this year, but both victories (WGC-Match Play, Shell Houston Open) came in early April. Mahan beat Europe’s leader, Rory McIlroy, in the Match Play final. Love expressed surprise after the PGA Championship that the points system didn’t allow Mahan to automatically qualify for the team after two 2012 victories. Mahan’s early-season success may be enough for Love to look past Mahan’s recent struggles. Mahan is one of the game’s best ball-strikers, and did impress at last year’s Presidents Cup, going 4-1-0 in the United States’ victory. He also was undefeated in the United States’ win at the 2008 Ryder Cup, going 2-0-3.
• Ryder Cup record: 3-2-3
• Singles record: 0-1-1
• Foursomes record: 2-1-1
• Four-balls record: 1-0-1
• International teams: The Presidents Cup (3), 2007, 2009, 2011; Ryder Cup (2), 2008, 2010; World Amateur Team Championship (1), 2002.
• Staffers to pick candidate: Alex Miceli, Sean Martin, Jim McCabe.
• • •
With so many guys in the mix for the four spots, how disappointing will it be if you don't get called?
"As disappointing as it would be, at the end of the day, it lies on you. I had two years to qualify, or the PGA. I played bad at the PGA. Anybody that's got a problem with that needs to reevaluate their goals the last two years. It's a tough goal to be upset, but that's the way it works out. I've been on the outside quite a few years, so I kind of know what to expect, and if I'm lucky enough to get on, I'll be excited."
• Official World Golf Ranking: 20
• Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking:: 24
• Recent finishes: MC, PGA Championship; T-28, Wyndham Championship; 2nd, The Barclays; 6th, Deutsche Bank Championship
• By the numbers: Driving distance (288.3 yards, 108th); Driving accuracy (59.2%, 118th); Greens in regulation (62.9%, 131st); Strokes gained-putting (.850, 1st)
• The skinny: Snedeker was on the fringes of the Ryder Cup conversation after the PGA Championship, but forced his way to the front and center with good play at Bethpage Black and TPC Boston. Snedeker’s putting – he leads the Tour in strokes gained-putting – could be a big help for the United States. The biggest issue for any rookie is how well they can handle the pressure. Being a captain’s pick would be sweet justice for Snedeker, though. He was a controversial omission from the 2003 Walker Cup team.
• Ryder Cup record: None
• International teams: World Cup (1), 2008; USA vs. Japan Collegiate Golf Championship (1), 2002.
• Staffers to pick candidate: Alex Miceli, Jim McCabe, Jeff Babineau, Sean Martin.
• • •
We've talked to some of the younger guys, Nick and Dustin, Rickie Fowler, about the anticipation of maybe getting that call. Are you nervous like they are or are you a little more calm about things?
"I'm calm. Hopefully I have a good feeling I'm going to get that call. I've talked to Davis enough, I've talked to enough other players that are on the team, and it sounds good for me. And it looks good for a couple of these younger guys that have been playing well, and it's fun to see that everybody is kind of coming together at this time and playing well and moving in the right direction. I've been in this spot two other times, one time where I didn't get the call‑‑ well, I got a call but not the right one, and then I did get a good one from (Paul) Azinger. Like I say, it's still there, you're thinking about it a lot, and whether that affects how you play this week, I think it does because ‑‑ especially the younger players that haven't been through it before. So it's tough."
• Official World Golf Ranking: 10
• Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking:: 7
• Recent finishes: T-7, PGA Championship; T-54, The Barclays; T-13, Deutsche Bank.
• By the numbers: Driving distance (284.1 yards, 155th); Driving accuracy (63.2%, 58th); Greens in regulation (67.3%, 22nd); Strokes gained-putting (.181, 64th)
• The skinny: Stricker, 45, hasn’t had to sweat out his spot on this team. Davis Love III has made it very clear since the PGA Championship that Stricker will be at Medinah. Love likes the 12-time PGA Tour winner because he’s a preferred partner of Tiger Woods. Stricker’s strong putting, consistent play and local ties also will be beneficial to the U.S. squad. He’s finished in the top-25 in 10 of 16 starts this year and missed just one cut. He won this year’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions and was runner-up at the recent WGC-Bridgestone before adding a second consecutive top-10 at the PGA Championship. Stricker is a University of Illinois alum, so there’s a good chance we’ll see some orange-and-blue among the U.S. fans outside Chicago.
• Ryder Cup record: 3-3-1
• Singles record: 1-1-0
• Foursomes record: 1-1-0
• Four-balls record: 1-1-1
• International teams: Ryder Cup (2), 2008, 2010; The Presidents Cup (4), 1996, 2007, 2009, 2011; Dunhill Cup (1), 1996.
• Staffers to pick candidate: Alex Miceli, Jim McCabe, Sean Martin, Jeff Babineau.
- Statistics as of Sept. 2, 2012