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Punch Shot: Who will, who should get final RC pick?

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Davis Love III announced three of his four captain's picks on Monday, adding Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and J.B. Holmes to the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Of course, Captain Love has one pick remaining, which he'll announce in two weeks after the Tour Championship. Who should Love take to Hazeltine? And perhaps more importantly, who will he take? Our writers weigh in:


By definition, the final U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s pick should be based on what happens next week at East Lake. After all, we're talking about what's unofficially called "The Billy Horschel rule," after the American got hot in 2014 and won the final two FedEx Cup Playoff events.

Short of that kind of 11th-hour rally, however, the list of potential picks for captain Davis Love III is relatively straightforward.

The likely recipient is Bubba Watson, who was ninth on the U.S. points list at the deadline. He's a veteran of the matches but has a 3-8-0 record in three starts. As Love demonstrated with his first three picks on Mondays, the Ryder Cup task force may have given him a blank check, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to cash it.

Who should get the pick is a more compelling question. Daniel Berger is an oft-mentioned candidate, as is Justin Thomas; but the player who has shown the best form lately is Ryan Moore.

Moore won the John Deere Classic last month and started the playoffs with back-to-back top-10 finishes at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship. He may not get the pick, but he deserves it.


Personality and team chemistry are obviously important factors in who gets a U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s pick this year, maybe overriding factors when stat lines provide no clear separation.

Rickie Fowler showed us Monday that these intangibles can trump form in the molding of this American team.

If that’s the case, Jim Furyk is the comfortable fit who gets the pick, and it’s looking like this team is being built for comfort with players getting a lot of say in who’s in and who’s out.

Who should get the pick? Bubba Watson ought to get it purely on merit. He’s the third highest ranked American in the world, a winner at the Northern Trust earlier this year who also has won two majors in his career, two more than the three captain’s picks named Monday. Watson was ninth in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, and Love can go straight chalk if he adds Watson to captain’s picks J.B. Holmes (No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings), Fowler (No. 11) and Matt Kuchar (No. 12).

It’s more than apparent, though, that Watson may not fit a team built for comfort.  


The final U.S. Ryder Cup slot should – and will – go to Daniel Berger.

Granted, the second half of that equation includes a bit more uncertainty. Berger could still be nipped at the wire by a strong Tour Championship performance from someone like Justin Thomas, Ryan Moore or Bubba Watson. But entering the final event of the season, Berger has the inside track and deservedly so.

Coming off a Rookie of the Year season, Berger has stepped his game up and once again earned a spot in the elite field at East Lake. He snagged his maiden win in Memphis, nearly won again in Hartford and has compiled a consistent summer that includes making every cut since March – this despite dealing with multiple injuries.

Captain Davis Love III went with a trio of veterans with his first three picks, and that allows him a bit of leeway for his final selection. Enter Berger, a player who ranges from confident to cocky depending on who you ask. The same unflinching attitude that allowed him to transition seamlessly from college to the professional game will also steel his nerves on one of the biggest stages in golf.


Who will get the spot? Bubba Watson. At No. 7 in the world, Watson is in position to become one of the biggest omissions in the history of the Ryder Cup. That alone should be plenty of motivation to figure out East Lake.

The home of the Tour Championship has never been all that welcoming to Watson’s creative style of play, and he said last year that “I would rather struggle here than not be here.” He needs to show Davis Love and Co. something next week because his Ryder Cup record is abysmal and he doesn’t a have a top-10 on Tour since early March. Here’s guessing he produces something similar to his best-ever finish at East Lake (a tie for fifth) to nail down the final spot.

Who should get the spot? Justin Thomas. Though Watson is the favorite to receive the final call, the player who should don the red, white and blue is Thomas. With a victory and four other top-3 finishes this season, the 23-year-old has established himself as one of the premier young stars in the game. He has match-play experience – albeit in U.S. Amateurs and NCAA Championships – and would partner well with buddies Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

Love has been a mentor to Thomas since he first broke on Tour, so he might be looking for any reason – a timely top-5 at East Lake, perhaps? – to give him the nod.  

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