By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
In Davis Love III’s mind, there were really just two openings among his four captain’s picks left to be decided. All along, he had Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, which meant everyone else was playing essentially for two spots.
In the end, Love went with Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, along with Stricker and Furyk, to fill out his 12-man roster.
The decision was far from easy. “It’s tough to leave anybody off,” Love said Tuesday. “This is probably the deepest, strongest year of earning points that I have seen.”
And some strong performances when the pressure was at its highest is what set his picks apart.
“Some guys were feeling pressure to make the team,” Love said. “Since the British Open, a couple of guys stepped up and handled that pressure really well.”
Here’s a closer look at each of Love’s four captain’s picks, including one player who didn’t make it.
Dustin Johnson: All along Love has emphasized wanting guys who were playing well late in the year and Johnson has done just that with third- and fourth-place finishes the last two weeks. His length is also a huge asset at Medinah, which will play over 7,600 yards. "Medinah is a big ballpark and I love Dustin Johnson on that course," Love said. And remember, if Johnson didn’t miss three months due to injury, he would have likely finished in the top 8 in the standings and qualified on his own anyway. Johnson is a combined 2-6-1 in one Ryder Cup and one Presidents Cup, but Love is more concerned about having the right players (and pairings) on the right course and he has that in Johnson, who he called the “best athlete” on the team.
Brandt Snedeker: Like Johnson, Snedeker played his best when the pressure was on. Beginning with the British Open, where Snedeker finished third, he had three finishes in the top 6 the last seven starts, including two in the last two weeks when he knew Love was watching. Snedeker is also the best putter on the U.S. team, leading the PGA TOUR in strokes gained-putting. The Tennessean is one of four rookies on the team, but Love’s other two captain’s picks will surround him with plenty of experience.
Jim Furyk: Experience -- and not a career 8-15-4 mark in the Ryder Cup -- is what got Furyk, who will be playing in his ninth Ryder Cup, on the team. He’s a leader in the locker room and highly respected among his peers. You knew his chances were also pretty good when Love was consulting he and Steve Stricker on potential captain’s picks as part of his process. Love said both were “easy” picks, and it’s not as if Furyk has had a bad year. He lost in a playoff in Tampa and nearly won the U.S. Open and World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Steve Stricker: This was the least surprising selection with Stricker’s place seemingly all but assured when Love noted during the PGA Championship the Wisconsin native’s success in being paired with Tiger Woods. Tuesday, Love confirmed it. Stricker has played well this year, too, winning the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions before adding a half-dozen more top 10s the rest of the year -- three of which have come since July. Only Snedeker is arguably a better putter than Stricker, who like Furyk brings veteran leadership to a team that could use some.
Odd man out?: Last month, Love was surprised that Hunter Mahan would win twice in a year and not be among the top 8 in the Ryder Cup standings. But a so-so summer and a poor last month hurt Mahan, who finished ninth in the standings. It also turned out he was competing against Johnson and Snedeker, among others, and not Furyk and Stricker. Johnson and Snedeker simply played better with Mahan missing the cut at the PGA Championship and The Barclays and failing to finish better than 39th in his last five starts.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. – After Monday’s finish of the Deutsche Bank Championship, the waiting game began for American players hoping to get one of the four captain’s picks from U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III.
Love will announce his four picks at 10:15 a.m. ET on Tuesday ( the announcement will be carried live on RyderCup.com .) But Phil Mickelson seemed to indicate that the picks are fairly well set. He said he has spoken to Love recently.
Indications are that Love would make his phone calls Monday night instead of waiting until Tuesday morning.
“Davis has got such a tough job on his hands,” said Deutsche Bank winner Rory McIlroy, who will be an interested spectator Tuesday as a member of the opposing European team. “He’s got six or seven guys to choose from for four spots. … I really wouldn’t want to be in Davis’ position tonight trying to decide who to pick.”
Here’s a look at seven of the primary candidates after Monday’s finish of the Deutsche Bank Championship:
BRANDT SNEDEKER: If Love wants a hot hand, here’s one of the hottest. Snedeker followed up his second at The Barclays with a sixth-place finish at the Deutsche Bank, shooting 65-67 on the weekend.
The pressure of hearing about a potential Ryder Cup pick forced Snedeker to turn his phone off, just so he wouldn’t have to keep talking about it.
“Just got tired of hearing about it,” he said. “I did a pretty good job of staying in the tournament and not thinking about it. I was obviously really very nervous today on the golf course. Today was a very big day. If I played bad today, it might sway him one way or the other.”
Snedeker said he would be disappointed if he doesn’t get a pick, but that he would only have himself to blame.
“I had two years to qualify, or (win) the PGA (Championship),” he said. “I played bad at the PGA. Anybody that’s got a problem with that needs to re-evaluate their goals the last two years. “
DUSTIN JOHNSON: The only other candidate besides Snedeker with top-10 finishes in both FedExCup Playoff events, Johnson backed up his tie for third at The Barclays with a tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank, shooting 65-70 on the weekend.
“I’ve had a good past two weeks, so I think I’ve made my case pretty solid,” Johnson said. “… I really think that I can help the team, and it’s something that I really enjoy doing.”
JIM FURYK: The veteran went undefeated last year at the Presidents Cup and has partnered with Tiger Woods in the past. He tied for 13th at the Deutsche Bank, shooting a third-round 65 to move up the leaderboard. He missed the cut last week at The Barclays but put himself in position to win two big events earlier this year – the U.S. Open and the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
“Last week didn’t help my cause,” Furyk said. “… but I feel like I played solid this week.
“I know they want some hot players, they want some guys that are playing well, and I guess guys like Strick (Steve Stricker) and I are going to be hopeful they also want some battled veterans and guys that have been there before.”
STEVE STRICKER: As Furyk mentioned, Stricker also could provide a veteran presence and has been successful with Woods as a partner. And he also finished tied for 13th at TPC Boston with four consistent rounds.
A week ago, Stricker finished tied for 54th at The Barclays , but had three top-10 finishes in his previous four starts.
HUNTER MAHAN: Won twice earlier this year but has cooled off lately. His tie for 39th at the Deutsche Bank was his best result on American soil since a tie for 8th at the AT&T National.
“You want to make the team,” Mahan said after shooting a final-round 71. “It’s plain and simple.”
RICKIE FOWLER: Shot a 5-over 76 in Monday’s final round to finish tied for 74th; just two players finished below him on the leaderboard. Fowler hasn’t had a top-10 finish since a tie for firth in May at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He was on the Ryder Cup team two years ago and played with Mickelson.
NICK WATNEY: Entered the conversation after winning The Barclays last week and backed it up with a tie for 20th at the Deutsche Bank.
Now it’s your turn. Which players do you think will become the four captain’s picks?
WATCH TUESDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT LIVE ON RYDERCUP.COM AT 10:15 A.M. ET
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio – In a dramatic reversal of fortunes, Keegan Bradley got up and down from a buried lie in the greenside bunker on the final hole to beat Jim Furyk and win the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday.
Bradley, who was in contention at Firestone a year ago until closing with a 41, had to make a 16-footer to save par on the 72nd hole. Once the ball started tracking toward the hole, there was no doubt it would find the bottom of the cup.
“I just kept telling myself that this is the exact moment that I live for, that you play golf for, that you grow up your whole life, and I'm living it,” Bradley said. “It's just an amazing feeling to be in that moment and just loving every second of it.
“I didn't think for a second I was going to miss it. It was unbelievable. I got behind it, and I barely even had to read it. I knew the exact way it was going to break. I just needed to hit it hard enough. I knew that. And it was dead center.”
Bradley, who will defend his PGA title next week at Kiawah Island, ended up shooting a bogey-free 64 to seal the victory and lock up the spot he so covets on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
But Furyk, who had led since opening with a 63, actually was one ahead when the two came to the final hole. His second shot landed in the right rough above the same bunker Bradley would later find.
Furyk’s chip surprisingly settled in the rough again, landing short of the green. Bradley blasted out past the pin before Furyk finally found the putting surface with his fourth shot, the ball stopping 5 feet shy.
Bradley then poured in his putt and celebrated with a fist pump. Furyk’s putt to force a playoff slid 5 feet by and he had to make that coming back to save a share of second with Steve Stricker, who birdied his final three holes to match Bradley’s 64 in the final round.
"I think right now just a little bit in shock with the way I finished up,” Furyk said after the round. “I turned a 5 into a 6 and lost the golf tournament on the last hole. There's no way I should have made double bogey.”
Only 10 of 33 third-round leaders have gone on to win on the PGA TOUR this year.
“I feel horrible for Jim,” Stricker said. “He led 71 holes, and then just had a bad last hole. It's a cruel game sometimes.”
AKRON, Ohio – In the anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better category, Jim Furyk and Keegan Bradley matched birdies at the par-5 16th hole.
Furyk made his 17-footer and celebrated with a quiet fist pump before Bradley converted from 11. The third member of the final group, Louis Oosthuizen actually had gotten things going when he chipped in from 50 feet behind the green.
So Furyk heads to the 17th hole at 14 under and remains one ahead of Bradley. Oosthuizen is tied at 11 under with Steve Stricker, who has just made his second straight birdie and third in the last four holes.
AKRON, Ohio -- Keegan Bradley continues to gain ground on Jim Furyk over the final holes of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Bradley made a 9-footer at the 14th hole to pull within a shot of Furyk, who has led since opening with a 63 in the first round. The birdie was Bradley's fifth of the day and moved him to 12 under.
AKRON, Ohio – Keegan Bradley inched closer to Jim Furyk with a 7-foot birdie putt at the 11th hole.
The birdie, which narrowed the gap to two strokes, was Bradley's second in a row and fourth of the day against no bogeys. Furyk two-putted for par from 24 feet on the same hole to remain at 13 under.
Louis Oosthuizen, the third member of the final group, got one of the shots he squandered at the turn back with a 4-footer for birdie on the par-3 12th. He’s back to 10 under, one shot behind Bradley and two off Furyk’s pace.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, polished off a 66 with nine consecutive pars on the back. One his playing partners, Matt Kuchar, joined Woods at 4 under for the tournament with a string of four birdies to close his round.
AKRON, Ohio – A year ago Keegan Bradley trailed by one when he made the turn on Sunday at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He self-destructed on the back nine, though, shooting a 41 to finish well back in a tie for 15th.
Bradley has put himself in position again this year at Firestone, only this time he's headed in a positive direction. He just drained a 23-footer for birdie at the 10th hole to take over second place from playing partner, Louis Oosthuizen, who missed a 10-footer to save par there.
Bradley, who has yet to make a bogey on Sunday, is now 10 under and trails Jim Furyk by three strokes. Furyk had a 6-footer for birdie at the 10th hole but was unable to convert.
AKRON, Ohio -- The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational is looking more and more like a two-man race. Here are some interesting facts should Jim Furyk or Louis Oosthuizen win:
* Earns his 17th PGA TOUR victory at the age of 42 years, 2 months and 24 days in his 476th career start on TOUR.
* Is projected to move from No. 25 into the top 10 in FedExCup points with 1,550 points.
* Becomes the second-oldest winner of a World Golf Championships event (Vijay Singh, 2008 Bridgestone Invitational, 45 years, 5 months, 12 days).
* Moves into a tie for 47th on the TOUR’s all-time wins list With 17.
* Wins for the first time in wire-to-wire fashion and becomes just the third to do so at the Bridgestone Invitational, joining Tiger Woods (2000) and Stewart Cink (2004).
* Becomes the fourth player in his 40s to win this season, joining Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. There have been 11 winners in their 20s (12 wins) and 14 in their 30s (18 wins).
* Becomes the 11th (out of 33 events) third-round leader/co-leader to win this season.
* Earns his second PGA TOUR victory at age of 29 years, 9 months and 17 days in his 47th career start on TOUR.
* Is projected to move from No. 41 into the top 20 in FedExCup points with 1,290 points. He could move as high as No. 13 in the standings.
* Becomes become the first South African to win the Bridgestone Invitational and the second to win a World Golf Championships event (Ernie Els).
* Becomes just second player in history to record his first two PGA TOUR wins at a major championship and a World Golf Championships event, joining Martin Kaymer (2010 PGA Championship, 2011 HSBC Champions).
* Records the 23rd come-from-behind win of the 2012 PGA TOUR season in 33 stroke-play events.
* Now has a win, runner-up (Masters) and third-place (Shell Houston Open) finish this year.
* Belted his PGA TOUR career-long drive during the third round, a 430-yard drive on the par-5 16th hole.
AKRON, Ohio – Jim Furyk has taken advantage of a Firestone layout that absorbed more than two hours of rain on Sunday morning by making birdies on his first three holes Sunday to open a two-shot lead.
Furyk made a 4-footer on the first hole, two-putted from the fringe at the par-5 second and rolled in a 10-footer at the third hole. He’s now 14 under and two ahead of Louis Oosthuizen, who missed a 6-footer at the third hole or else he would have matched Furyk’s start.
Rory McIlroy two-putted from 8 feet at the second hole and made a 4-footer at the next to move to 8 under. Reigning PGA champ Keegan Bradley, who is playing in the final group, made a 25-footer at the third hole to join the 2011 U.S. Open champ, six strokes behind Furyk.
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods shot 31 on the front side and has moved to 4 under for the tournament.