Davis Love's dilemma
Most of the US Ryder Cup team is now confirmed, but Davis Love III has a very tough decision to make on his four wildcards..
When the automatic picks for the US Ryder Cup team are confirmed, it usually gives the captain a sense of clarification and certainty surrounding his team. For Davis Love III, confirmation of his eight qualifiers after the PGA Championship has only compounded what could be described as a major selection headache.
Having four wildcard picks gives a US captain both flexibility and control, allowing him to select the type of players that he wants to create the right balance in his team. With the quintet of Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Hunter Mahan all missing out on automatic qualification, Love's wildcard decisions will reveal a great deal about his mindset heading into the tournament.
It would seem certain that after two tour wins this year, Hunter Mahan will make the team, leaving the US captain with a decision to make about how his remaining wildcard picks should be balanced.
According to the bookmakers, Furyk and Stricker are the favourites to make the team, yet there are some corners that would infer that picks for both men would signify a lack of intent.
The merits for picking both Furyk and Stricker are clear for all to see. Offering nine Ryder Cup appearances and 13.5 points between them, the pair boast considerable experience. Both have also acted as playing partners for Tiger Woods, something which will certainly play a part in Love's decision.
According to the bookmakers, Furyk and Stricker are the favourites to make the team, yet there are some corners that would infer that picks for both men would signify a lack of ...
However, to pick both men would mean an omission for either Dustin
Johnson or Rickie Fowler - two players which undoubtably present more
exciting options for Love than Furyk and Stricker. Johnson is one of the
longest hitters in the game at the moment, whilst Fowler offers the
kind of maverick excitement that might be required to tip the scales in
the USA's favour.
Perhaps Love will look to those who have already qualified when making
his decision. The team already contains three Ryder Cup debutants, but
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson also bring considerable experience to the
table. The attacking mindedness of Bubba Watson will be offset by the
calmer nature of Matt Kuchar, so it would seem as though the existing
team is well balanced. The irony is therefore that Love can do nothing
but tip the scales one way or the other with his wildcard picks.
Personally, I think the US captain will air on the side of caution and
hope that pure talent will win out over the course of the tournament -
so I expect him to pick Mahan, Stricker, Furyk and probably Rickie
However, US Ryder Cup experience over the last decade also brings the
scars of numerous defeats at the hands of the Europeans. If Love wants
to break away from that and go out for a win, he may have to make a
decision to leave one of Furyk or Stricker behind. If I were in charge
of the US team, then I would leave Furyk out and hand both Johnson and
Fowler a pick. Then again, I'm not the one who has to stand by my
decision at whatever cost. Good luck Davis...