The Ryder Cup captains – Europe’s Darren Clarke and Davis Love III for the U.S. – must be eating antacids like popcorn these days the way the teams are – and aren’t – shaping up with four weeks before the matches.
Love is certainly sweating over Rickie Fowler in particular. Fowler was 12th in the standings going into the Barclays – the final points event. Fowler, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, needed a top-three finish at the Barclays to assure him a spot on the American team.
Instead, Fowler coughed up the lead and tripped all over himself in the final stretch, making two bogeys and a double in the final four holes to fall into a tie for seventh and outside the automatic top eight. Love’s problems could have been solved had Fowler made the team on points. But now he has to wonder about Fowler being able to play in big moments, given his performance on Sunday.
Clarke doesn’t have it much better. Of his nine automatic qualifiers, five are Ryder Cup rookies. That could be a problem, playing in your first Ryder Cup on foreign soil. When Clarke makes his three wild-card picks on Tuesday, you can just about count on veterans Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer being chosen.
However, adding to Clarke’s consternation is Thomas Pieters of Belgium, who made his presence known by winning the Made In Denmark event on Sunday on the European Tour. Pieters was mum about his Ryder Cup chances but if Clarke should choose him, it would mean that half of Europe’s team would be rookies.
That being the case, Clarke hopes first time’s the charm.