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An early A list

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Although it’s impossible to debate the effectiveness of the changes Paul Azinger brought to the last Ryder Cup, the tinkering has produced a skewed early list of potential U.S. team members for the 2010 matches.

Among the names that stand out on the year’s maiden U.S. list are David Duval and Ricky Barnes tied for ninth place and Tom Watson alone in sixth – a player who failed to keep his Tour card, a player who narrowly maintained his status and an aging icon who hasn’t played in more than two Tour events a year since 2004.

It should be pointed out that the new points system only awards points in odd years for finishes in major championships, which would explain such lofty spots for Duval, Barnes and Watson.

The new year promises much more volatility to the current list. Consider that Matt Kuchar, who finished third at the season opener, was not ranked before this week and vaulted to 13th while Sean O’Hair (T-4 at Kapalua) jumped from 16th to eighth.

All of which is good news for U.S. skipper Corey Pavin, who otherwise would be mulling a Stewart Cink-Tom Watson four-ball tandem later this year in Wales.