Who are your Ryder Cup captain's picks?

By Jason SobelAugust 27, 2012, 7:30 pm

Jose Maria Olazabal made his Ryder Cup captain's picks Monday, selecting Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts for the European team that will face the U.S. at Medinah Sept. 28-30. U.S. captain Davis Love III still has to make four picks of his own on Sept. 4, the day after the Deutsche Bank Championship.

We asked our writers for their U.S. Ryder Cup captain's picks. They were only too happy to oblige.


By JASON SOBEL

If my name is Davis Love III and I have to make my four captain's picks right now – as in, right this very second – I'm going with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler and Brandt Snedeker.

Stricker is a great putter and partner for Tiger Woods. 'Nuff said.

Furyk has had a very strong few months, a duck hook on the 16th tee at Olympic Club and a yip on the 18th green at Firestone notwithstanding.

Fowler is the kind of guy everyone likes. He's what I call a Glue Guy – can play with anyone and can't be categorized as a ball-striker or a putter, because he does both so well.

Snedeker is a putter of the highest order. More important, he plays his best golf when his back is against the wall. Those are the kind of guys we need.

Apologies to Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson. You all came close. But remember: These are just my picks 'right this very second.' Ask me again in a few minutes and I'm liable to change my mind.


By JAY COFFIN

Davis Love III must be sitting in a room somewhere in tears. The man doesn't like controversy and, almost no matter whom he selects to round out his U.S. squad, he will be second-guessed. Love’s counterpart Jose Maria Olazabal had it easy; his picks were no-brainers.

Two weeks ago, following the PGA Championship, it seemed as if Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler were locks. Love may well take all four, but the last two weeks on the PGA Tour have seriously muddied the once-clear waters.

From the aforementioned list I’d still select Stricker and Mahan. Stricker is guaranteed a spot because he’s easily paired with Tiger Woods. Mahan has not played well lately, but it’d still be difficult to pass on anyone who has won twice on the PGA Tour this year.

Then I’d go with Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker to complete the team. Johnson needs to putt better, but he hits the ball miles and Medinah is a big ballpark. Snedeker putts it lights out and he’s played extremely well since the British Open, including a second-place finish at The Barclays.

That’d leave Furyk and Fowler on the outside, along with Nick Watney. Furyk has not handled pressure well this summer and Fowler hasn’t done much to speak of since May. Watney played well for one week. It was an important week, but it’s not enough.

A lot can, and will, change this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Which doesn’t make Love’s job any easier.


BY REX HOGGARD

Davis Love III has the luxury of waiting a week until he must announce his four captain’s picks, but we’ve seen enough.

Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, Nos. 10 and 11 at the points deadline, already should have been fitted for their waterproof rain gear, (at least we hope it's waterproof) and brightly colored team sweaters.

Stricker has become the yin to Tiger Woods’ yang in the biennial slugfest and Furyk, despite disappointments at the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational, was 5-0 at last year’s Presidents Cup and has not missed a match since his rookie Ryder Cup in 1997.

The final two picks, however, are less obvious. Hunter Mahan is a two-time winner on Tour this year, including the WGC-Accenture Match Play, but has just one top-10 finish since winning the Shell Houston Open, and Rickie Fowler secured his first Tour title this year (Wells Fargo Championship) but hasn’t posted a top 10 since May.

Which brings us to Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson – Nos. 13 and 15 on the points list – to round out Love’s team.

Johnson, who missed nearly three months of the season with injury, won his second event back (FedEx St. Jude Classic) and finished tied for third at The Barclays. While Snedeker was runner-up to Nick Watney on Sunday at Bethpage and is one of the Tour’s top putters, which is always an asset at a Ryder Cup.


BY RYAN LAVNER

Oh, the volatility of a Ryder Cup year. A week ago, Davis Love III had an easy decision: The U.S. captain would select Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler – Nos. 9-12 in the points standings on Aug. 12, when qualifying ended – and endure little or no criticism.  

It’s not quite so simple anymore, huh?

An undesirable task, to be sure, but if forced to make a decision right now, I’d take Stricker and Furyk – two Ryder Cup veterans and steadying presences in the team room – along with Barclays winner Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker.

Watney, a former top-10 player, won Sunday at Bethpage Black in such convincing fashion that it almost made you forget his 2012 swoon. (Almost.) The streaky Snedeker finished second on Long Island – yet another high finish in a season full of them – and putts lights-out, which is a desirable attribute in team competitions. Hey, by this time next week, even long-hitting Dustin Johnson (T-3 at Barclays) may deserve the pick.

Love’s lineup card has changed, and not only because of the improved play of a few of the Cup hopefuls. Hunter Mahan, a two-time winner this season who was ninth in points, has only one top 10 since April, and Rickie Fowler, a winner at Quail Hollow, doesn’t have a top 20 in his past six starts.

Naturally, the discussion will shift in a week, after another high-pressure performance at the Deutsche Bank. Only in a Ryder Cup year . . . 

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.