United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III added experience, length and birdie potential on Tuesday by announcing his four selections for this month’s bi-annual competition between the U.S. and Europe.
As expected, Love III went with established veterans Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk with two of his four captain’s picks. Both are experienced in Ryder Cup and President’s Cup play and each player has successfully partnered with Tiger Woods on several occasions.
Dustin Johnson played his way on to the team with outstanding play over the last month. After missing nearly three months earlier in the season due to injury, Johnson recovered in time to impress Love III with his health and his putting. Johnson, one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR, is also one of the circuit’s best birdie-makers when his putter is on.
Brandt Snedeker, like Johnson, also played his way on after challenging at the British Open and following that with strong play in the month thereafter. He’s also a player capable of making birdies in bunches, which bodes well in a team-event like the Ryder Cup where pars generally don’t do you much good.
All four picks seem reasonable to me. While Stricker and Furyk make complete sense, it’s not like they have to prop up Tiger Woods anymore. In year’s past, Woods needed a partner who could put the ball in play off the tee in both the better-ball and alternate-shot formats, but that’s not the case now. The Great One has flirted with the top 5 in the TOUR’s “total driving” stat all year (the combination of where you rank in driving distance and driving accuracy) and is swinging the golf club as well as he ever has heading into next week’s BMW Championship in Indiana. His putter? That’s a different story. But for once, Woods won’t be a liability off the tee in the Ryder Cup.
Johnson and Snedeker come in with the hot hand, assuming their current form continues for another three weeks. The only player I hoped might make it that didn’t was Bo Van Pelt. He finished 17th in the standings, but he’s a birdie machine and would probably give his left arm to make the team.
It’s hard to find fault with the captain’s picks. They feature a major champion (Furyk) and three other players who have all sniffed around at majors throughout their careers. And, as most players will tell you, the Ryder Cup produces as much angst and nervous tension as a major championship.