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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sizing Up the US Ryder Cup Team

Sunday at the PGA Championship was the last day to automatically qualify for the US Ryder Cup team. Captain Tom Watson spoke to the media Monday and dealt with a million questions, mostly concerning Tiger.

Tom Watson

Today I'm going to take a quick look at the 9 qualifiers for the US Ryder Cup Team and who I think the current frontrunners are for the 3 remaining Captain's Picks.

First, here are the qualifiers:
  1. Bubba Watson
  2. Rickie Fowler
  3. Jim Furyk
  4. Jimmy Walker:
  5. Phil Mickelson
  6. Matt Kuchar
  7. Jordan Spieth
  8. Patrick Reed
  9. Zach Johnson
All-in-all, this isn't a bad team. The only real question marks are Kucher's bad back (although it's not as bad as some other players who didn't make the team) and Bubba's recent lack of form. The ability to "hide" players should minimize these problems if they continue over the next 6 weeks.

While Jordan Spieth has been off his game lately, I suspect he's just a bit tired after a nonstop year of pushing himself. I note that he's taken this week (the Wyndham) off, so I imagine he's figured that out as well. ;-)

I suspect Tom was thrilled when Phil, Patrick, and Zach played their way onto the team. We forget that Phil nearly won in the Middle East back in January; a back injury on the plane ride home threw him off his game. (And I can tell you from experience that, as you get older, it takes longer to recover from injury than when you're younger.) In addition to Patrick becoming a father, Tom noted that he broke his driver earlier this year and only recently found a new one he likes. And Zach will provide some much needed experience, giving Tom even more freedom to pick rookies.

So the big question becomes who Tom will pick to finish out the team. Based on how they're playing right now, here are my picks:
  • Keegan Bradley: Given how well they paired up last time, almost everyone has assumed Phil and Keegan will be a team once again. And up until the PGA where he missed the cut, Keegan was making progress up the rankings -- and even then he finished up at #13. (That's with DJ not included.) I wouldn't be surprised if he's the player Tom said texted him about finding a new driver and that he was going to "make him pick him," which Tom said he liked.
  • Ryan Moore: Ryan is #11 in the rankings -- just below Dufner, who's unlikely to play -- and has four Top12s in his last 5 tournaments. (He finished T41 at the PGA.) He's got some good match play experience from his amateur days, including the US Amateur and Walker Cup. And he's also a streaky good putter.
And I'm expecting Tom to pick Tiger unless the Big Cat simply can't play. However, for this post I'll assume that he can't. Who would Tom likely choose as his third pick?
  • Brandt Snedeker: If Tom passes on Tiger, I believe this pick would come down to Brandt or Hunter Mahan, both of whom have had a rough summer -- Brandt with some mediocre finishes, Hunter with some recent missed cuts. Both played well in the last two big events. This will be a question of who plays best over the next 3 weeks... and Hunter has chosen not to play this week. Brandt is in the Wyndham field.
The US Team is shaping up better than it appeared just a week ago. The "underdog" label will still clearly belong to them, however, and I think that may be a good thing. They sure haven't dealt with that "favorites on paper" label all that well lately!

1 comment:

  1. Yanni actually composed the Ryder Cup theme as well