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Monday, September 1, 2014

My Best Guesses at the Ryder Cup Picks

Although the Deutsche Bank doesn't finish until later today, I'm going to take a shot at picking each Ryder Cup captain's picks. We'll see how good I do when the actual picks are made on Tuesday.

The Ryder Cup itself

Let's start with the European Team since, to be honest, I think Paul McGinley's choices are pretty clear.

There was a lot of drama over whether Stephen Gallacher could oust Graeme McDowell out of the final qualifying spot this week, but that was nothing but smoke. Paul McGinley's NOT an idiot! Gallacher has been playing too well and has too good a record at Gleneagles for McGinley to leave him off the team. Likewise, McDowell couldn't defend his position because he was off welcoming his new little girl into the world. Regardless of who got the spot, the other was going to make the team.

Likewise, I don't see Ian Poulter being left off the team. Poults has been injured for much of the year and is just finally healing up. His play is still a bit sporadic but he's got a month to get his game back in shape... including this week, since he made the secondary cut at Deutsche Bank.

So the only real question is the third spot, which is pretty much between Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. While both have struggled somewhat this year, McGinley needs another experienced player in the team room and doesn't have another standout rookie who might be worth the gamble. And if he has to gamble on a veteran, I think it will be Lee Westwood. Westwood was beginning to show some form near the end of the PGA Tour season while Donald has continued to struggle. Simply put, it's not the best of ideas to make swing changes in a Ryder Cup year and Donald is a classic example of why.

Over on the American side, I think Tom Watson finds himself in a bit of a pickle, albeit a happy one. Several of the American players have responded to Tom's challenge to step up and impress him. Without seeing how they perform today in the final round at Deutsche Bank, I'll have to make some real guesses.

In my opinion, there's one clear choice: Keegan Bradley. Despite the ridiculous amount of pressure Bradley has put on himself -- which I'm sure Tom actually likes -- Keegan has managed to step up his play over the last few weeks. And given how much Phil needs him (yes, I said it -- Phil NEEDS Keegan), I don't think Tom can ignore him. Since he's at #13 in points anyway, I think he's a no-brainer.

The other choices are no longer so clear to me. Here are the ones (with their points ranking) I think still have a chance, along with their current Deutsche Bank position in parentheses:
  • 12: Brendon Todd (MC)
  • 14: Chris Kirk (3)
  • 15: Webb Simpson (6)
  • 18: Ryan Palmer (T7)
  • 24: Gary Woodland (T56)
  • 25: Hunter Mahan (T67)
  • 27: Kevin Streelman (T7)
  • 28: Bill Haas (T11)
  • 33: Russell Henley (1)
  • 35: Billy Horschel (2)
Right now I'm leaning toward Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan. The reason is that these two have been playing the most consistently good golf over the last month or so. In addition, Hunter made 3 of 4 major cuts (missed the US Open) while Bill has made all 4 plus THE PLAYERS. In fact, Haas hasn't missed a cut all year (he did have a WD early on) and if he wins today, I'm sure he's in. Both have great driving, GIR, and putting stats. And though Mahan is struggling a bit this week, I'm not so surprised the week after a win.

As far as the other players go, nobody else has been able to put two good weeks together. (That's why Ryan Moore dropped off my list. Despite his match play record, his scores indicate that he may have peaked a couple of months too early.) And I think the only one of them who's played "well enough" recently to benefit from a win today would be Webb Simpson, who would likely take Bill's spot since the one strike against Bill is a poor showing at this year's Accenture Match Play. (And yes, "well enough" is a relative term. Webb has missed the cut every other week for the last couple of months, but he posted pretty good finishes at the cuts he made.)

So there you have my picks. For the Euros:
  1. Stephen Gallacher
  2. Ian Poulter
  3. Lee Westwood
And for the Americans:
  1. Keegan Bradley
  2. Bill Haas
  3. Hunter Mahan
Tomorrow we'll see how I did!

3 comments:

  1. Hey mike, nice picks !
    To me mcdowell is a better fighter than westwood and with a better spirit. Moreover i'm not sure that westwood's putting can still hold the pressure.
    See you

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Baptiste. And apparently the Captains thought I did pretty good as well! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. They knew about your blog, obviously !

    : )

    ReplyDelete