Sutton Picks Haas Cink as Wild Cards


04 Ryder CupU.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton selected Jay Haas and Stewart Cink as wild cards to round out the American team.
'I want to congratulate everyone who made this team, and I especially want to congratulate Jay and Stewart,' said Sutton. 'They are not only great players, but they're great human beings. This team has been rounded out very nicely with their additions.''
Seven players had clinched a spot regardless of what happened at the year's final major: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, David Toms and Chad Campbell.
'I had about five guys on my mind the entire time,' said Sutton of the wild-card picks. 'Somebody could have changed that yesterday - and there were a lot of changes. But Stewart and Jay were on my mind the entire time.'
Chris DiMarco and Chris Riley played themselves into the Ryder Cup with their performances Sunday in the PGA Championship. DiMarco finished second after a three-man, three-hole playoff and Riley was fourth -- good enough to knock Haas and Steve Flesch out of the top 10 in the Ryder Cup point standings.
Justin Leonard needed to win the tournament to make the team.
'Justin Leonard played great,' said Sutton. 'But I just couldn't pick him because of just one event. I tried to make this over a longer period of time.'
The two who made the team - Haas and Cink - were the lucky ones.
'They played well for quite a period of time here,' said Sutton. 'Both of them in the top 25 in putting. Both are great drivers. Both are good iron players. Neither one are what I would call prolific long hitters - but too bad, so sad guys, I'm one of those guys, too.'
DiMarco made two double bogeys the final round at the '01 PGA, four strokes that kept him from making the U.S. team that year. He only needed an eighth-place tie to make it this year.
After hitting his 6-iron onto the green at No. 18, 'I looked at my caddie and said, 'That's good enough, for sure,'' DiMarco said. 'I'm proud of myself that I went out and did it.'
Riley missed a 4-foot putt on the 18th and thought that kept off the team, but he made it when Leonard didn't.
Fred Funk, 48, would have been knocked off the team only if Leonard, Riley and DiMarco had all made it. Having missed the cut, he was watching on television and doing the calculations in his head.
'It hasn't really hit me yet, other than I'm getting a million phone calls,' Funk told The Associated Press. 'That was my goal going into this year. To have it actually happen at this stage in my career, it's a great way to finish my regular tour career.'
Funk played in the Presidents Cup last year at Fancourt in South Africa, where DiMarco made a clutch putt on the 17th hole on the final day. 'Hal said, 'Just take that moment, with a Ryder Cup on American soil, and multiply it by a 100,'' Funk said.
Flesch, who came to Whistling Straits ninth in the standings, and Haas, who was 10th, were the big losers in the wild scramble that determined the majority of the team. Haas, of course, eventually was selected.
'It's out of my hands now. I had my chance and I didn't play that well this week,' Flesch said. 'I'm tired of hearing about it. I can't wait until he makes his two picks and it's over.'
Jeff Maggert, who was 13th in the standings and needing to move up, withdrew because his wife gave birth to twins. By Sunday, after cuts and withdrawals, there were 17 players left in contention for the three spots up for grabs.
'It's out of my hands now,' said Sutton. 'I didn't have but two choices.'
Cink needed a sixth place and finished 17th. Scott Verplank needed to finish ninth and came in 62nd. Todd Hamilton needed a seventh and got a 37th. Seven golfers, including Leonard, needed to win and didn't.
Haas, 50, was the second-oldest player ever picked for the team, second only to Raymond Floyd in '93. Haas last played in the Ryder Cup in '95 at Oak Hill. On the 18th hole of the deciding match, he popped up his tee shot on his way to making bogey, losing to Philip Walton and giving Europe the win.
Sutton himself missed the cut at Whistling Straits. He spent the last two days in his hotel room watching the tournament on television with the volume turned down.
Related links:
  • U.S. and European Ryder Cup Points List

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup

    The Associated Press was also used existensively in this report.