Decisions Decisions


Ryder CupPaul Azinger has what Nick Faldo wants. Nick Faldo has what Paul Azinger wants. And both men have a major dilemma.
Azinger, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, has four wildcard picks at his disposal and no one who really warrants a selection. Faldo has plenty of players worthy of being on his European team, but only two picks to make.
Faldo, who will announce his selections Sunday after the Johnnie Walker Championship, will likely have to cut down a potential list of five to two. Those five include: Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Colin Montgomerie.
Poulter made Faldos decision a bit tougher by deciding to skip the Johnnie Walker and compete in the PGA TOURs Deutsche Bank Championship this week, thus assuring himself of not qualifying for the team based on the European points list.
Had Poulter qualified via the points list, he would have likely knocked out either Soren Hansen or Oliver Wilson. And given the likelihood that Faldo would have bypassed either of those two men, it would have opened up another spot on his team for someone more experienced.
The European press has been railing on Poulter over his decision, which he said was based on playing in 15 TOUR events to keep his status (this will be his 15th event of the season). At 89th on the FedExCup playoff standings, had he not played in Boston he would not have had a chance to qualify for the final two Playoffs events (the top 70 make it to next weeks BMW Championship).
He still might not make it to St. Louis, but he wont have to play in any Fall Series events either, which was his goal. And apparently that goal superseded guaranteeing him a spot on this years European Ryder Cup team.
Or maybe he already knows something we dont. Maybe Faldo has already made his two picks and hes just not letting the public in on it yet.
Thats the case for Azinger. He told GOLF CHANNELs Tim Rosaforte Monday that he has already determined who will occupy two of his four open slots. He wouldnt reveal the names, but he did say that you had to look well outside the second 10 on the final U.S. Ryder Cup points list to find their names.
Such a statement is an indication as to how poorly those comprising the 10-20 spots on the final standings have played recently.
Only one name stands out looking outside the top 20: No. 34, Scott Verplank.
Verplank competed in the 2002 and 2006 Ryder Cup Matches and has a career 4-1-0 record.
When Azinger announced that he would get four picks instead of two, and would be making the selections two weeks from the Cup instead of right after the PGA Championship, he said it was to assure him of having the hottest players on his team.
Unfortunately, everyone who failed to qualify is currently lukewarm at best ' and some are down right frigid. Because of that, Azinger has opted for what every captain before him has: experience.
This is the final week for players to impress the captains. One would assume that Casey and Poulter have the best chance of making it on the European side, with Clarke having an outside chance, McGinley having a further outside chance, and Monty having no chance in Hades.
On the U.S. side, its wide open ' at least for two of the four spots. Steve Stricker, Sean OHair, Rocco Mediate and J.B. Holmes are possible picks; though none have Ryder Cup experience.
If Azinger only had two picks, his decision would be made; if Faldo had four picks, his would be made much easier.
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