Davis Love III’s message was clear on Monday morning: The eight automatic qualifiers for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup must now step up.
After two years of task forces and tradition-breaking, it’s up to the players, not Captain Love or the PGA the America, to change the U.S. fortunes in the biennial matches.
“Now it’s time for this top 8 to take ownership of this team. These eight guys need to pick four more. From No. 1 to No. 8 they need to take ownership of this team,” Love said in New York City.
The eight automatic qualifiers were set after last week’s Barclays and include: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson.
Reed made the week’s biggest move at the 11th hour, jumping from eighth on the U.S. points list to fourth with his victory over Rickie Fowler at Bethpage Black.
“He’s so competitive, he wants to win, he wants to be on this team. Patrick Reed is built to play the Ryder Cup,” said Love of Reed, who earned 3 1/2 points as a rookie in 2014.
Koepka is the only rookie among the eight qualifiers, the fewest first-timers on a U.S. team since 1999, which Love said should give him plenty of flexibility to make his final four captain’s picks.
Love will announce three of his four picks on Sept. 12 after the BMW Championship and his final selection following the Tour Championship, but the second-time captain said it will be a decision that will be made by his entire team.
Among those he will be eyeing for a potential pick will be Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes, Fowler and Matt Kuchar, Nos. 9 through 12, respectively, on the final points list; but Love also mentioned Jim Furyk, at 15th on the points list, as a likely candidate for selection.
“There are lot of things to measure. Guys who get hot these next two weeks are the guys we’re looking at,” Love said. “It’s going to be an interesting two weeks.”
Love also specifically mentioned Fowler, who could have moved into the top 8 on Sunday but he played his last four holes in 3 over par at Bethpage and tied for seventh place.
“Rickie is trending up, that’s the great thing and he’s going into some tournaments that really suit him," Love said. "He’s starting to make some putts and he’s confident with his game."