Tiger Woods and his partner in last years Presidents Cup, Jim Furyk, are the only two players whose games are sharp enough to please captain Tom Lehman. David Toms has played fairly well. But everyone else ' well, they arent anywhere near up to snuff.
Heres a look at the U.S. squad going into the PGA:
1 ' TIGER WOODS Won his last two (British Open and Buick Open), won four over-all this season. Without a doubt, the best player in the world.
2 ' PHIL MICKELSON Great first half, but last three tournaments are cause for concern - Western T65, British Open T22, missed the cut at the International.
3 ' JIM FURYK Last four tournaments, lowest finish was a fourth place (T2 U.S. Open, T4 Western, 4 British, T2 Buick Open). Note that two of those were majors.
And now, the rest
4 ' CHAD CAMPBELL Missed cut in three of last four. Missed cut in U.S. Open, finished T65 in British.
5 - DAVID TOMS Nothing to get excited about, but compared to remainder of the team, hes one of the better ones. Last five were T10 at FedEx St. Jude, T15 at Barclays, WD at U.S. Open after opening round of 79, a missed cut at Buick Open, T19 at International.
6 - CHRIS DiMARCO Raised hopes when he chased Woods to the end at the British, but hes missed the cut in the other four of his most recent events. Loss of his mother undoubtedly had much to do with this.
7 - VAUGHN TAYLOR Tied for fourth in recent Buick Open, but in four previous events, best finish was t42.
8 ' J.J. HENRY Missed cut in three of his last seven, missed the cut in both majors he has participated in this year (U.S. Open and British). He did win the Buick Championship in early July.
9 ' ZACH JOHNSON Missed the cut in each of the last two majors. Had a poor final round at the International after leading through three rounds. Its rather disturbing, though, to say that Johnson is probably Americas fifth best player, judging from the recent form charts: in his last six starts, he has finished T21 twice, T33 twice, as well as 13th last week.
10 ' BRETT WETTERICH Missed the cut four times in his last seven events. In the other three, had a best finish of T24.
Number 11 John Rollins? Hes missed the cut in eight of his last 13. Stewart Cink at No. 12 has been good in his last five with three finishes of T5 or better. Jerry Kelly at No. 13 has shown some signs of life, finishing second at Milwaukee and tying for 26th in his only major this year, the British. Number 14 Lucas Glover? Hes missed the cut in five of his last nine events.
That brings us to two old Ryder Cup veterans, No. 14 Davis Love and No. 15 Fred Couples. Love has missed the cut in the last two majors, U.S. Open and the British. Couples hasnt really done anything since he tied for third in the Masters. Hes missed the cut in three of the six events hes played in, and finished T25, 83 and T48 in the other three.
All this leads up to very slim pickings for Lehman. He would be totally justified if he picked himself for one of the two wildcards ' but then again, he himself also missed the cut at the U.S. and British Opens. And his putting has been very poor throughout the year ' he stands 189th in the rankings. That stat alone is why he isnt even considering Tom Lehman.
Folkss, there isnt much reason to feel optimistic if you are a red-white-and-blue type. Of course, you can say the U.S. should go with youth since the Americans havent fared well in these matches the past 10-12 years. But this meager lot doesnt tell you WHICH youngsters you should pick. Everywhere you look, theres mediocrity.
Of course, the Europeans have shown conclusively that past records arent particularly indicative of play in the Ryder Cup. The Americans will have to lean heavily on that adage. Switch em up, a lot of people say, and let the new guys try. But its like fumbling around in the dark for your clothes. You have no idea if you are getting a shirt and pants that matches. IF, that is, anything matches in this rather shallow pool of contenders.
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