by Jeff Skinner
During today’s final round of the Deustche Bank Championship much was said about the group of players battling for the four captain’s picks on the 2012 Ryder Cup Team. I’m sure that Captain Davis Love III was watching closely but to think that a player’s fate rested on a single round after two seasons of point gathering is a bit harsh.
The eight players that earned enough points to qualify are Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson. That left a group of very anxious players scrambling for the four captain’s picks. In descending order of points earned were Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Bo Van Pelt and Dustin Johnson. The pundits threw Nick Watney’s name into the mix after his win at The Barclays but after such a disappointing season and only finishing 30th on the points list his selection would be a very long shot and a disservice to all those that finished well above him.
Love’s task isn’t easy and depending on how you look at this group, all of them would be a very justified pick. But it’s about getting the players that are playing well and that fit into the team chemistry. So here are my selections to fill out Captain Love’s team.
Hunter Mahan makes the team based on his two PGA Tour wins even though he hasn’t finished the season well going T39, MC, MC, and T55. Winning twice and finishing 9th in points carries a lot of weight.
Steve Stricker makes the team. Even though his lone win came back in January he has finished well recently: T13, T54, T2, and T2. And Davis needs one of Tiger’s boys to partner with him and Stricker does that so very well.
Brandt Snedeker makes the team with his one PGA Tour win and his hot finish to the season. He placed 6th, 2nd, T28 and a MC in his last four starts. One of the biggest factors in his selection is his very hot putter. He leads the tour in strokes gained putting and we all know how important a hot putter can be in match play.
Dustin Johnson makes the team as probably the hottest player of all those vying for a captain’s selection. Johnson finished 15th in points this year but only played in 17 events. His last four finishes: T4, T3, T48 and T9. None of the contenders was as hot as D.J.
Here’s my logic behind not selecting the rest.
Jim Furyk was the toughest to keep off the team based on the fact that this may be his last chance to be on a Ryder Cup. But zero wins and a less than stellar finish cost Furyk. If his putter was working I may have selected him over Stricker but even though he finished higher in strokes gained putting that Strick (31st to 45th) Sticker’s hot hand won out. Love may see it differently and select his good buddy based on his veteran experience in the Ryder Cup.
Rickie Fowler has been an enigma all season. He shoots 65 one day and 80 the next. It seems odd that in a season where he finally won on tour he misses The Ryder Cup after being a captain’s pick in 2010. But Rickie hasn’t been getting it done of late. He finished T74, T24, MC and T31 in his last four starts and placed a dismal 132nd on tour in stroked gained. The team will get their dose of youthful enthusiasm from Keegan and Webb.
Bo Van Pelt has played consistent golf all season but not winning hurt him greatly. He has had eight top tens, fourteen top twenty fives and only missed three cuts in 22 events. He finished the season well, T26, T24, T18 and T8 but even though he earned more points than Johnson, DJ’s hot hand won out.
Captain Love may utilize some different logic with his selections but for my money these are the guys that give the U.S. Team the best chance at beating a very stacked European Team at Medinah.