Bradley, Mahan, Simpson named U.S. captain's picks
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson have been selected by captain Tom Watson to fill out his U.S. Ryder Cup team for the Sept. 26-28 matches at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland.
Captaining his second Ryder Cup team, Watson, who turns 65 on Thursday, opted for a different route with his selections Tuesday night in New York than he did in 1993, when he had two picks and chose veterans Raymond Floyd and Lanny Wadkins.
Watson believed then that he needed experienced leaders to win a Ryder Cup overseas, and that's exactly what he got at The Belfry in England. Floyd, an assistant on this year’s team, and Wadkins earned 5 1/2 points as the Americans won the Ryder Cup, 15-13. It is the last time the U.S. won the cup overseas.
Watson had few veteran contenders in this year’s mix, and opted for three players with a total of four previous Ryder Cups among them: Mahan ('08, '10), Bradley (who went 3-1 in 2012, and was unbeaten in team play alongside Phil Mickelson) and Simpson (who partnered brilliantly with Bubba Watson at Medinah in his only Ryder Cup appearance, in 2012).
Bradley, who has the 2011 PGA Championship among his three PGA Tour victories, is No. 23 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and had been part of the Ryder Cup discussion since midsummer. Before the Open Championship, Bradley, 28, visited Gleneagles with Watson to play the host course.
Watson commented at the time that Bradley’s length off the tee and high ball flight would be nice to have at Gleneagles.
“I think the Ryder Cup is a time to let the emotion come out of you,” Bradley said after his selection. “We are so often trying to fight and hold down, and I think the Ryder Cup is a great example of when you can just let it go. Sometimes that can make you play great golf.”
Mahan, 32, ranked 20th in the world, emerged as a possible pick after his tie for seventh at the PGA Championship, and he cemented his spot by winning The Barclays, the FedEx Cup playoff opener. It was his sixth career Tour victory, and first since 2012. Mahan now has made all three of his Ryder Cup teams via captain’s pick. His overall record is 3-2-3.
“I think we are extremely motivated and we have a lot to prove, I think, amongst each player,” said Mahan, referencing Europe's comeback one-point victory two years ago at Medinah. “I think we can't wait to get over and start going to work and start putting on the uniform and see the flag everywhere and just really getting in the spirit, because we have a tough challenge, but we are extremely excited. We can't wait to go over to Scotland and get ready for battle.”
Simpson, 29, hasn’t won this season, but the Wake Forest graduate compiled a solid 2014 season and moved to 19th in the FedEx Cup points list and 32nd in the world rankings.
Simpson won 17 of the 64 holes that he played in his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah. But that prowess was offset in singles Sunday when he squandered a 2-up lead through six holes to Ian Poulter and then lost the 17th and 18th holes as Europe won a crucial point.
“Two years has gone by very quickly,” Simpson said. “I remember all my matches hole‑by‑hole like they were yesterday. I'm eager to get back in the mix and try to get back the Ryder Cup.”
The three captain's picks join the team’s nine automatic qualifiers who were named after the PGA: (in order of finish) Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson. Walker, Spieth and Reed will be competing in their first Ryder Cup.
The Americans lead the overall series, 25-12-2, but the Europeans have won two consecutive matches and seven of the past nine. Paul McGinley filled out the European side earlier in the day by selecting Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.