The Ryder Cup Captain has selected his sqaud for the 2010 competition.
Captain Corey has made his picks. Now it’s up to this mixed bag of talents — some untested, some inconsistent, some publicly disgraced — to make him look like a genius.
Corey Pavin huddled with his assistant captains on Monday night to finalize his final four Ryder Cup selections, and there was at least one surprise in the bunch. Let’s take them one at a time:
• Tiger Woods (Ryder Cup record: 10–13–2). Pretty much a no-brainer, even given Tiger’s travails over the last 10 months. Woods is still No. 1 in the world, as he has been for 274 consecutive weeks, despite his repeated attempts to relinquish the top spot. His play has been occasionally spectacular of late, as evidenced by his opening 65 at the Barclays and second-round 65 at the Deutsche Bank. Of course, it’s also been occasionally dismal — his scoring average of 70.36 is 32nd-best on Tour and easily the worst of his career. But could anyone imagine that Pavin wouldn’t be placing a call to golf’s top attraction? NBC shudders at the very thought. Tiger’s already playing good soldier. “It’s great to be part of the team. I’m honored to be selected,” he said.
• Zach Johnson (Ryder Cup record: 1–2–1). Even with a limited Ryder Cup track record, this one’s hard to argue; the light-hitting Johnson gets more out of his game than just about anybody. He also putts as well as any player on Tour, a welcome trait at an event that places a premium on putting. But can he hold up on the broad-shouldered Twenty Ten Course?
• Stewart Cink (Ryder Cup record: 4-7–4). A bit of a head-scratcher. Cink was a non-factor at this year’s majors, failing to capitalize on his breakthrough at the Open Championship last year. He has only three top-10s this year, and he’s currently 35th in FedExCup points.
• Rickie Fowler (first Ryder Cup). In the category of so-stupid-it-just-might-work, Rick the Rook will travel to Wales with a thinner resume than Barack Obama. Fowler has been feast-or-famine during his debut season on Tour, with five top 10s (none since early June) and eight missed cuts. Kid’s got undeniable talent, but Pavin is placing an awful lot of faith in a 21-year-old. Undoubtedly, it was Fowler’s distinguished amateur career, one that included a sterling 7–1 record in Walker Cup play, that prompted Pavin to roll the dice. It certainly wasn’t his recent run of performances — he has only one top-15 finish in the last two months. “He’s deserving,” Pavin said. “There were a lot of guys deserving, and a lot of guys in the mix. It just came down to feelings. I have a good gut feeling about Rickie.” Just don’t let him design the team shirts.
There you have it. This diverse quartet joins automatic qualifiers Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson. They’ll be heavy underdogs next month at Celtic Manor, but they’ll be fun to watch.
Maybe Next Time
Winning the Deutsche Bank, the second leg of the FedExCup playoffs, wasn’t enough to get Charley Hoffman on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. For his part, Hoffman was hopeful but realistic about his chances prior to Pavin’s announcement. “Let’s put it this way,” he said after his brilliant final-round 62 propelled him to a five-shot win and into second place in FedExCup points. “Would I be honored to play on the Ryder Cup team? There’s no question. I’d love to play. I think I’d help that team. If I don’t get picked, there’s not a bad pick.
“All these players who are going to play for the U.S. Team are great players and they’re going to show up there and they’re going to be a great team if I’m on it or off it, but obviously I’d love to be on it.”
A player previously known for possessing sports’ best shaggy blond mullet since Andre Agassi’s, Hoffman is stating his case as an elite player. His 62 was the best closing round by a winner since the Deutsche Bank was established in 2003. The $10 million bonus for winning the FedExCup would be a nice consolation prize for missing that other Cup.
Other notable omissions included 2008 Cup stalwarts Anthony Kim and J.B. Holmes, big hitters who could have feasted on the Twenty Ten course, and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover. Also absent: dark horse candidate Fred Couples, who could have lent a veteran’s steady hand and relaxed locker room presence.