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 . . .