The reason why was simple. The "Billy-Ho Pick" made it almost impossible.
Just as most of those "in the know" expected Darren to pick Kaymer, Westwood and Pieters, those same folks expected Davis to pick Fowler, Kuchar and Holmes. And they were right.
But now the debate begins. Were those the right choices?
I don't know. I'm aware -- if for no other reason than Davis saying so -- that both he and Darren are buried under stats which they're using to help them choose. Davis also noted that Tiger and Jim Furyk have spent a lot of time crunching those numbers for him. And Phil's comments suggest that these picks were highly likely, even a few weeks ago.
All of that could lead us to believe that the twelfth man will be either Bubba Watson, who was #9 on the Ryder Cup points list when the first eight were announced, or Jim "Mr. 58" Furyk.
PGATOUR.com did an article about these choices, and it gives us some interesting info:
- The only Americans not on the team who are in the Top30 in the OWGR are Bubba and Furyk.
- Among those who would be rookies, "Ryan Moore has three top-10s in his last five starts, including a win at the John Deere Classic. Daniel Berger has two top-10s in his last four starts, including a T-10 on Sunday at the BMW Championship. Justin Thomas enters the TOUR Championship ranked 12th in FedExCup points."
- And if you believe that the "Billy-Ho Pick" will automatically go to the winner of the Tour Championship if he happens to be an American, you have 12 possibilities: Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, Ryan Moore, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland, Kevin Na, William McGirt, Sean O'Hair, Roberto Castro and Jason Dufner.
I understand that Ryder Cup picks aren't just about who's hot at any given moment. You have to consider team chemistry and potential pairings as well. And Davis said that Tiger had been reminding them that it's not just about how far a player hits the ball or how well they putt.
But I can't help thinking that despite all the talk about "planning for the future," it has been forgotten that, at some point, whether you like it or not, you're going to have younger players take over simply because the older players are too old. It's easier to break in young players if they have veterans around... but that doesn't mean you need an 11-to-1 ratio. Hell, if Darren had taken my advice he'd have SEVEN rookies instead of six!
Granted, the Euro rookies have played better than the US rookies. But having half your team be rookies isn't a bad thing. It's a quick way to build a larger pool of players to choose from, and it's just about the only way to learn who's good at match play. For example, I've heard that Ryan Moore may not get picked because he doesn't have the "chemistry" that some of the others have. But they feared Patrick Reed didn't have it going into the last Ryder Cup. Do you think Reed won't be a Captain's Pick going forward if necessary?
Forgive the rant, folks. The main thing the Task Force needed to do was establish some consistency in the process of Captain selection and running the team, and they've done that. And I'm sure that Davis and his vice captains know what they're doing when it comes to picking their team. They have access to all the necessary info they need to make the correct choices.
But mark my words: The US isn't losing because they have too many vets or too many rookies. They're losing matches because they lose too many holes to par, and that's just a matter of poor course management.
Unless they fix THAT problem, it won't matter WHO they put on the team.