Ryder Cup: U.S. captain's pick candidates

Keegan Bradley is considered a front-runner to earn one of Tom Watson's three captain's picks for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Keegan Bradley is considered a front-runner to earn one of Tom Watson's three captain's picks for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. ( Associated Press )

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson will fill out his 12-man roster with three captain’s picks Tuesday night in New York, and there is a good deal of excitement and banter surrounding who will be picked.

Here’s a look at the candidates and how we’re handicapping them heading into Watson’s announcement:

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Keegan Bradley

Age: 28

World ranking: 23

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 26

Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Record: 3-1-0

Skinny: Hits it long, hits it pretty straight, and was a force with Phil Mickelson at Medinah. Hasn’t been so hot with the putter of late, but really, is there any player who wants to get to Gleneagles more than he does?

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Hunter Mahan

Age: 32

World Ranking: 20

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 27

Ryder Cup appearances: 2

Record: 3-2-3

Skinny: Watson wants form, and Mahan jumped in and showed it with a big victory at Barclays to open the playoffs. He has experience in both cups (Ryder and Presidents), hits a lot of greens and is a good putter.

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Chris Kirk

Age: 29

World Ranking: 25

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 17

Ryder Cup appearances: 0

Skinny: You want hot? How about a guy who won on Monday in Boston, stared down Rory McIlroy and now sits atop the FedEx Cup standings? Has two victories this season and knocked down some big putts down the stretch at DBC. Captain Watson has said he wants putters and closers and guys in good form. Check, check and check.

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In the Mix

Webb Simpson

Age: 29

World Ranking: 41

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 24

Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Record: 2-2-0

Skinny: He hasn’t won this season, but he has nine top 10s, $3.3 million in earnings, and has had some good showings of late (three top 9s since Greenbrier). Very good putter, good scrambler, and a man who can partner with Bubba Watson, which won’t be the captain’s easiest assignment.

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Bill Haas

Age: 32

World Ranking: 31

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 9

Ryder Cup appearances: 0

Skinny: You want steady? Twenty-six starts this season, and he has not missed a single cut. Hasn’t won, but whereas so many candidates have been up and down, he’s been consistent, finishing in the top 25 on 15 occasions. Well-liked, and a very good iron player who can knock it close and produce birdies. At 32, might be ready for first Ryder Cup experience.

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Wild, wild, wild cards

Gary Woodland

Age: 30

World Ranking: 48

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 20

Ryder Cup appearances: 0

Skinny: This one may be seem out there, but he’s a Midwest guy (like the captain) who played high-level team sports (baseball, basketball) and whose length off the tee (and overall driving) could be a huge asset at Gleneagles. Won a World Cup with Matt Kuchar, who would be a natural pairing.

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Brooks Koepka

Age: 24

World Ranking: 73

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 103

Ryder Cup appearances: 0

Skinny: OK, this one may seem way, way out there, too, but take a listen: He’s performed very well on big stages, has Woodland-like length (which Captain Watson saw first-hand for a couple holes at the PGA), and is no stranger to Europe and Gleneagles. (Koepka actually has won in Scotland.) Again, his length on a course where it’s a big asset should at least raise an eyebrow. And he was 39th in points despite a limited schedule.

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Missed their shot

Brandt Snedeker

Age: 33

World Ranking: 37

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 47

Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Record: 1-2-0

Skinny: Swing work under Butch Harmon still a work in process, as he sees good things on the range that haven’t been translating onto the golf course. For the first time since ’11, not in top 10 in strokes gained putting. Played solidly in Akron and at the PGA, but when he needed to perform the last two weeks, he missed two cuts. That might cost Sneed-eker his spot.

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Ryan Moore

Age: 31

World Ranking: 32

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 22

Ryder Cup appearances: 0

Skinny: Was a terrific match-play performer as an amateur (U.S. Amateur and Western Am champion, competed at Walker Cup), but has yet to play on a U.S. team as a pro. Drives it straight, but maybe not long enough for Gleneagles, and his putting hasn’t been at its usual high level this season. But was right there on the bubble at the PGA and did not capitalize.

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Jason Dufner

Age: 37

World Ranking: 39

Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 63

Ryder Cup appearances: 1 (3-1)

Skinny: A neck injury sent Dufner packing at the PGA, where he slipped out of the top nine in points, and there is no reason to think he’d be ready to play in Scotland. Too bad. He partnered very well with Zach Johnson in Chicago, and every team could use a guy like Duff in the team room. There’s always 2016.

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