NORTON, Mass. – Nick Watney, Ryder Cup hopeful, still doesn’t know what it’ll take to make the U.S. team. As of Thursday afternoon, he hadn’t yet heard from captain Davis Love III. Watney received a text message from Fred Couples, but it merely said “nice playing” and detailed no secret way to earn a spot on the team. Only five days remain until the wild-card selections are announced.
“For all I know,” Watney said Thursday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, “I’m not even in the conversation.”
Well, let’s not be too pessimistic.
If Love hopes to add a “hot” player to this year’s squad, he’d be wise to at least consider Watney, who last week won the playoff-opening Barclays tournament with a world-class performance at Bethpage Black. For months, Watney wasn’t even on the Ryder Cup radar, struggling through a disappointing 2012 campaign that included just three top 10s. Watney was such an afterthought, in fact, that three weeks ago, he wasn’t invited to a dinner for prospective Ryder Cuppers at the PGA Championship, which he believed was reserved for those in the top 15 in the points standings.
The trajectory of his season changed dramatically last week on Long Island, however. The best guess is that if Watney plays well here at TPC Boston – perhaps he wins, or places in the top 3, the top 5, or maybe even the top 10 – he’d be hard to pass up, given his performance in the final two events before The Decision, when the spotlight shone the brightest. That could be good enough.
But maybe not. Remember, the seven players who are vying for the final four spots are at the mercy of a 48-year-old captain, one with his own preferences and vision. Sure, Love wants to select a player who has turned it on late – but at the expense of a guy who was solid throughout the season?
“Part of me wishes that I knew what I had to do, and part of me is glad that I don’t,” said Watney, who will play with Tiger Woods and fellow Ryder Cup hopeful Brandt Snedeker during the first two rounds of the Deutsche Bank.
“If that call comes, I will be overjoyed. And if it doesn’t, then the first five months of the season cost me.”