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Love’s First Three Picks Raise Questions

REUTERS/Andrew Boyers. Picture Supplied by Action Images.

In answering three questions about his U.S. Ryder Cup team Monday, captain Davis Love III raised other questions.

The three answers were Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar, the players Love added to his Ryder Cup roster, each of whom were considered likely selections.

What remains unanswered is who the final player will be.
Will Love leave Bubba Watson, the No. 7 player in the world, off his team?

Will he shake it up with a Ryder Cup rookie, since he has only one (Brooks Koepka) on his team?

Will Jim Furyk move from an assistant captain’s role to the final playing spot?

And, if Love picks another Ryder Cup veteran to fill out the U.S. squad how will that reflect on the Ryder Cup task force charged with changing the sagging American fortunes in the Ryder Cup?

There was no surprise to Kuchar and Holmes being named by Love on Monday and though he had been the center of speculation, the addition of Fowler was no great surprise either. Players and captains wanted Fowler on the team as much for what he brings off the course as on it.

Did Love make ‘chalk’ picks?

Yes, but he also made solid picks. No player had a resume that screamed he had to be included. The hot player theory, which prompted the late rotation of captain’s picks, didn’t significantly define who Love was going to select.

Phil Mickelson, who has been heavily involved in the Ryder Cup process, said Sunday at the BMW Championship, that the selections had essentially been made well before the deadline and pairings were already being drawn up. His point is the Ryder Cup group – not just Love – knows what and who it wants.

So what about Bubba?

There’s a very good chance he’ll be left off the team because if there was a ‘must have’ player then Love would have named him on Monday.

That’s not to say Watson will be left off but he doesn’t have a top-10 finish since March, he can lapse into funks on the course and he’s 0-3 in Ryder Cup singles. On the other hand, when Watson is on, he can be brilliant and the U.S. Ryder Cup team has tended to lack brilliance.

The Furyk question lingers, in part because Love keeps talking about Furyk in media sessions, citing how high Furyk probably would have ranked had he played a full season this year. He didn’t close the door on Furyk when he could have Monday.

“We told him not to put away his clubs for the offseason yet,” Love said of Furyk.

Maybe Love is holding Furyk as his safety pick if he doesn’t see what he wants from Watson or Daniel Berger or any other player in the mix for the final spot. Not every player Love is considering is in the 30-player field at the Tour Championship.

If Love adds Watson as his 12th player, that will mean the top 12 in points will have made the team.

That’s not exactly out of the box thinking for a team that’s lost eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups and one that felt the need to create a task force to overhaul the entire process.

The task force focus, Love and others have said, was focused on creating a consistent structure that will allow the U.S. to be more competitive in the future. Captains will be groomed and it will more closely mirror the model that has helped Europe be so successful. The success or failure of the task force shouldn’t be based entirely on what happens at Hazeltine, Love and others have said.

“It’s so we’re not starting from scratch every two years,” Love said. “Whether it’s North Carolina basketball or Patriots football they run the same system. They just get new players. You look at Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, they do the same things over and over. We don’t need to be starting over every two years.”


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