Update: Below is the original blog I wrote at 7am on Tuesday morning in which I predicted the four picks to be made by Corey Pavin today for the upcoming U.S. Ryder Cup team.
I went 3-for-4.
I only missed out on Rickie Fowler, who was (oddly) added to the team by Pavin despite the fact that he doesn’t have a win and has been out on TOUR less than a year.
I was right on Woods (obviously) and Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink.
Fowler does have five top 5’s this year and he’s a helluva young player. But Ryder Cup ready? I don’t know. We’ll see in early October.
Here’s the original blog:
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin will make his four selections this morning at 10:30 am, and many followers feel Pavin’s chances for winning the event are tied directly to his picks. A U.S. team that contains a handful of untested rookies (Kuchar, Johnson, Overton, Watson) will need the full impact of established veterans if they plan on going to Celtic Manor (Wales) and retaining the cup the first weekend of October.
The European team is loaded. And despite Colin Montgomerie helping to level the playing field with three benign picks of his own (Luke Donald…ok – Harrington and the “other” Molinari?…well, we’ll see), it’s an uphill battle for the U.S. squad as they seek to win on foreign soil for the first time since 1993 at The Belfry in England.
So who will Pavin pick on Tuesday morning?
Tiger Woods is as slam-dunk as slam-dunk can get. Born-again-Christian and all, Pavin still won’t let Tiger’s personal failings get in the way of adding the world’s best player to the roster. Woods has helped his cause in recent weeks after a horrible weekend at Firestone CC in mid-August in which he finished over-par on a course he won 7 times on and routinely dominated. Now under the tutelage of instructor Sean Foley, Tiger has made two noticeable swing changes in the last few weeks that have helped bring back his ball striking skills. Whether or not he wins one of the final two TOUR events remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Woods is playing his best golf of 2010 right now, which is what Pavin needs to see to completely justify his pick.
I think Pavin will go with Stewart Cink as one of his other picks. Cink is a supreme ball striker who can master the weather and course conditions “on the other side of the pond”, as evidenced by his win at the British Open last summer. Cink is also a Ryder Cup and President’s Cup veteran, which makes the pick even more sensible.
Low ball hitters will be important at Celtic Manor. And with Pavin’s 8 pre-set roster members like Overton, Watson and Stricker more prone to the high-ball flight, I think the Captain looks more closely at players who hit it low and work their ball under the wind. That means Zach Johnson will be a natural selection for Pavin. Johnson also has Ryder Cup experience and a Masters victory under his belt, so making putts that matter is part of his pedigree.
Personally, I think experience under the gun (as in, winning major titles) is more important than who comes in with the “hot hand”. Charley Hoffman had a great weekend in Boston and made every putt he looked at, but would you take him to the Ryder Cup just because he found the magic over the last four days? I wouldn’t. J.B. Holmes is a long-ball hitter who played well at Valhalla for Paul Azinger in the 2008 Ryder Cup, and it wouldn’t shock me if he’s added by Pavin, but his season was on-again/off-again and a balky putter sometimes makes him unreliable.
I think Pavin’s fourth selection will be Lucas Glover. Glover didn’t have the greatest weekend in Boston, but he’s been solid most of the season and has that gritty U.S. Open win at Bethpage in 2009 to support the selection. Glover’s quiet, hard-working manner fits in nicely with Pavin’s own personal style and he’s the kind of guy who can play with just about anyone in the four-ball and foursomes matches.
Check back at 10:30 am for the picks and analysis.