In the weeks leading up to Monday’s announcement, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III said he wanted to use his four captain’s picks to find a hot player, good putters and experience.
His four picks – Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker – checked each of Captain Love’s designated boxes.
It meant leaving off Hunter Mahan, who finished ninth in points and won twice this year, Rickie Fowler, whose game went as flat as his cap brim over the summer and Nick Watney, who I probably would have given the spot over Furyk.
In announcing his four choices, Love called this “the deepest, strongest year of earning points” he can remember which made narrowing his choices more difficult.
If one of the four flames out against the Europeans at Medinah next month, it will be easy to say Love made a mistake but at the moment, it’s hard to argue with his choices.
Stricker was a lock because he’s one of the world’s best putters, a perfect partner for Tiger Woods and the kind of guy Love and others want in the team room. When it comes to team chemistry, he’s a huge asset.
Picking Snedeker was a good move because he’s playing well, he can putt with his eyes closed and it’s his time to be on a Ryder Cup team. Snedeker has quietly become a top-level player and his enthusiasm should be a nice addition to a team with low-key personalities such as Jason Dufner, Johnson, Furyk and Woods.
Johnson played his way onto the team over the last month after missing a big early chunk of the season due to an injury. Imagine Johnson and Bubba Watson paired in alternate shot, just for the pure awe aspect of the shots they might hit together.
If there’s a rap on Johnson, it’s that he’s not a great putter. But he’s too talented to leave off.
Furyk stumbled home in the U.S. Open and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, kicking away big wins that raised questions about whether Love would choose him. But Furyk has been on almost as many U.S. teams as red, white and blue and figures to be a calm presence in a tense event.
But he’s 8-15-4 in his Ryder Cup career and Love will likely sit him in four-ball (best ball) competition where he’s a dreadful 1-8-1.
Love answered one set of questions Monday. Bigger questions await at Medinah.