Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love's Top Picks for the USA Team?

Fred AltvaterContributor IIAugust 27, 2012

Who will USA Ryder Cup team captain Davis Love III pick next week to round out the team?
Who will USA Ryder Cup team captain Davis Love III pick next week to round out the team?David Cannon/Getty Images

Automatic qualifying for the USA Ryder Cup team ended after the PGA Championship. The top eight players that are officially on the team are: Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson.

USA team captain Davis Love III will make four additional picks Monday, September 4 following the Deutsche Bank.

Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Bo Van Pelt and Dustin Johnson are the next seven names on the Ryder Cup points list.

After his big win this week at the Barclays, Nick Watney may have just thrown his name into the mix.

Mahan won two PGA Tour titles in 2012 and probably thought his position on the Ryder Cup team was assured. Since his win at Houston in April, however, Mahan has only had one top-10 finish—not the type of rèsumè Love is looking for in a captain’s pick. Mahan missed the cut at the Barclays and will need to perform well next week at the Deutsche Bank to get Love’s attention.

Stricker has had another steady year on tour. He picked up a win early in the year in Hawaii. He was recently runner-up at WGC-Bridgestone and has seven top-10 finishes. Strix is on the team if for no other reason than as the designated partner for Woods.

Furyk is a veteran of several Ryder Cup and President Cup competitions. He is just the type of steady experienced player that a team needs. Furyk has put himself in contention more than once this year but has had some memorable failures. He held the lead at the U.S. Open with just three holes left and could not get the job done. I don’t think that will matter to Love. Furyk is on the team.

Fowler finally got his first PGA Tour win at the Wells Fargo in May. He followed that up with a T-2 at the Players and T-5 at the Crowne Plaza, but since then his best finish was a T-31 at the U.S. Open in June. Fowler does well in match play and would partner well with a veteran player. Plus, he brings the flashy style and young viewers to the game. I think Fowler is on the team.

That leaves only one spot remaining for Mahan, Johnson, Van Pelt, Snedeker or possibly Watney.

Johnson, Mahan and Snedeker all have wins in 2012. Van Pelt has had a career year and has been in contention several times but has not won.

Snedeker finished runner-up at the Barclays, shooting 68-70 on the weekend at Bethpage. He definitely did not hurt his chances at making the team. Another high finish at the Deutsche Bank may just secure his spot.

Johnson finished just one shot behind Snedeker this week for a T-3. You just know that Love wants DJ on the USA Team. 

Van Pelt finished T-24 at the Barclays. It was another solid week for him, but he needs a win next week to get on the Ryder Cup team.

Watney only had three top-10s heading into the playoffs this week. But you know what they say, winning talks but…well, you know. 

If he can back up his win with another high finish next week, he may just find himself on the team. 

Mahan’s missed cut this week puts him well behind the others. He needs a win quick.

This will be a tough decision for Love and the USA Ryder Cup team. Competition makes everyone play better. Any one of these players would be a good choice for the team.