Deutsche Bank should have been Ryder Cup qualifier
- By Jason Sobel
- Aug 31, 2012 9:09 AM ET
Brandt Snedeker was just minutes removed from a final-round 70 at The Barclays on Sunday that vaulted him into a solo second-place finish. Like every strong Ryder Cup candidate this time of year, he was immediately pelted with questions about his standing amongst the roster wannabes, how much the prospect was weighing on his mind and whether he thought it was enough to impress United States captain Davis Love III.
“His message has been very clear,” Snedeker explained. “Just forget about the Ryder Cup and play as good as you possibly can and it will take care of itself.”
That may be the right message, but Love has missed an opportunity to prove just how forthright he was in the “play as good as you can” speech to the contenders.
In other words, that line could have held greater literal meaning.
Think about it: At almost every level of the game, players are required to qualify for spots into bigger competitions. There is a qualifying tournament – for one more year, at least – that grants players PGA Tour cards for the next season. There are qualifying tournaments to gain entry into both the U.S. Open and Open Championship fields.
If you look at it the right way, the first eight U.S. team members achieved their places on the team through a de facto qualifier, accumulating points during a two-year period.
So doesn’t it seem a bit skewed that the final four should simply be handed roster spots based on a nebulous “play as good as you can” parameter?
Instead, Love should have taken those words to heart.
He should have used this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship as a qualifying tournament.
The one term most often used to describe the Ryder Cup vibe is “pressure.” Well, there’s no better way to find out how each candidate deals with pressure than to force him into a situation that is rife with it.
Now, I’m up for any suggestions as to how the captain could have put this into play.
It would be a bit too volatile and eccentric to contend that the top four finishers of the 58 non-qualified, Ryder Cup-eligible players in this week’s field should be named to the team. No offense to, say, Martin Flores, Dicky Pride, Daniel Summerhays and John Merrick, but if that foursome topped the leaderboard at TPC Boston and each earned a spot, Jose Maria Olazabal may think he’s dreaming going to Medinah.
But what about just one of ‘em? If Love wants players who are in form and can handle pressure, there’s no better way for a guy to prove both of those things than to beat everyone else in that “qualifying tournament” field.
If nothing else, it would make for one hell of a story.
I can understand, though, if other suggestions for this qualifying format would limit the field to only those candidates who have already proven themselves.
By all accounts, Love has seven contenders for his four wild-card selections – eight if you want to consider Bo Van Pelt, who may be better categorized as a wilder card.
After winning The Barclays, Watney was asked the perfunctory Ryder Cup query and answered, “It's out of my control, so all I can do is try to get ready to play next week and see where the chips fall.”
He’s right, of course, but shouldn’t he be in control? Shouldn’t the players who have afforded themselves the luxury of being included in the conversation also own the luxury of controlling their own destiny?
The truth is, that very well may be the case.
If any of those aforementioned seven – or eight, if you include the wilder Van Pelt – prevails on Labor Day and claims the trophy just hours before Love will make his final decision on the captain’s selections, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t get the call soon afterward.
Without declaring that intention, though, the captain has taken all pressure to perform off the candidates. Going into a competition that’s almost entirely about handling pressure, he missed an opportunity to see who is best equipped for success four weeks from now.
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