By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- We won’t know for another month who will be the captains’ picks for this year’s U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams, but Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal offered at least some insight on Wednesday.
“We'll be plugging holes, matching pairings,” Love said. “Obviously if Steve Stricker was on the outside, we have a guy that likes to play with him that's a lock.”
Tiger Woods is that lock as he’s the only player on either side to have mathematically secured a spot.
As Love indicated, Woods has had success alongside Stricker. The two compiled a 6-2 record when paired together in the last three international team competitions (2-1 in the 2010 Ryder Cup, 0-1 and 4-0 in each of the last two Presidents Cups).
Stricker is currently 10th in the standings. Only the top eight players after this week’s PGA Championship will automatically make the U.S. team, however. Love will then make four captain’s picks Sept. 4.
Others on the outside looking in include Hunter Mahan, who has won twice this season, at No. 9, and Jim Furyk, who had leads late into the U.S. Open and last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, at No. 11. Furyk also finished second in Tampa, losing a playoff Luke Donald.
Rickie Fowler, who won earlier this year at Quail Hollow, is No. 12, while Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson and Bo Van Pelt round out the top 15.
But as we saw with Keegan Bradley, a player can make a big leap in the standings with a win -- particularly this week with double points being awarded (players receive two points for every $1,000 in prize money earned). That means everyone down to Matt Every at No. 37 has a chance to earn an automatic spot with a victory at the PGA Championship.
“It just shows you that we are strong and all of the guys at the top are taking turns playing well,” Love said. “There's a lot of golf to be watched. Fifty-one days (until the Ryder Cup), there's three tournaments after this week. I would think somebody can get really hot that we are not even looking at.”
One player Love will be looking at is an ice cold Phil Mickelson, who is on the bubble of earning one of those automatic spots at No. 8 in the standings.
Mickelson, who won at Pebble Beach earlier this year, has just one finish inside the top 25 on the PGA TOUR since April. At one point during that span, he failed to break par in nine consecutive rounds -- the longest such streak of his career. He’s also missed the cut in two of his last three starts, including at the British Open, and admitted to being “lethargic” the last two months.
If Mickelson were to struggle again this week, he could drop in the standings and that might force Love to use one of his picks on the veteran of eight Ryder Cups and nine Presidents Cups.
“I think he and Steve and a lot of guys are trying really hard to make the team, and that might be hurting them a little bit,” Love said. “We have all been there; the last few weeks, you press a little bit, you try a little too hard.”
Olazabal is facing a similar dilemma with Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington, who have played in five and six Ryder Cups, respectively. They are 12th and 29th in the current standings, though Europe’s top 10 players won’t become final until the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles later this month.
Europe’s team will be comprised of the top five players from the Ryder Cup European points list and the top five not otherwise qualified from the world points list. Olazabal will add two captain’s picks the day after Europe’s top 10 spots become final.
“He's a great team player,” Olazabal said of Garcia. “His spirit is always really good, and in that regard I think he's a great asset to the team. It's true that at the moment his game is a little bit off. Pairing-wise, he's proved the last few Ryder Cups he can play with anybody, and he's done well. I think that's very important. If you are looking at the players to be on your team, Sergio would certainly be one of them for sure.”
Harrington’s chances seem far more tenuous.
“He has to do really extraordinary well,” Olazabal said. “He's well down the list. He's a very methodical player. From tee-to-green, his game has been fairly good, but I think his putting has let him down this year so far. If he really does extraordinarily well, he can have a great chance of making the team still, but it's going to be up to him.”
Whoever Olazabal and Love pick, both men will lean on their assistant captains, among others, when it comes to making their selections.
Love added that he doesn’t yet have a hard list of player’s he’s considering when it comes to his picks. But he does have an idea of what characteristics he’s looking for.
“You want some hot putters,” Love said. “You might want another long'-ball hitter.
“This week is important, because it ends the points. But it's just as important as any of the guys who play at Greensboro or who plays well at Barclays. I would like to catch somebody that's hot this week and the next two tournaments they play.”
By Brian Wacker, PGAOTUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Davis Love III confirmed on Wednesday perhaps the worst-kept secret in golf: That Fred Couples will be one of his assistant captains at the Ryder Cup Sept. 28-30 at Medinah Country Club.
Joining Couples as an assistant is Mike Hulbert.
“I've talked to Fred a lot since he's done so well the last couple years with the Presidents Cup team,” said Love, who has yet to name his other assistants. “I talked to him a lot, gotten a lot of advice from him, been surprised at his level of detail and his commitment to the Presidents Cup. And I know that's why the guys are lobbying for him to do it over and over again, because he really has put a lot into it.”
Couples has captained the last two Presidents Cup teams -- and is the captain for 2013, too -- and led the U.S. to victory both times.
“People see Freddie, he makes it look so easy and he's got this nice swing and he's always smiling and waving,” Love continued. “But what's going on in his head, I think, is completely different. He really has a lot of pride in his game. It doesn't show, but he tries very, very hard.”
As for Hulbert, he came with a pretty impressive recommendation of sorts.
One of the first calls Love received after he was named captain was from Curtis Strange, who told love that Hulbert was “the best assistant captain in the history of the Ryder Cup.”
Hulbert was an assistant captain under Strange in 2002. He has also long been one of Love’s closest friends, even before Love played his first round on the PGA TOUR as an amateur and was paired with Hulbert.
“He knows a lot of guys out here and a lot of guys know him,” Love said. “He's one of those kind of the favorite hang guys around the TOUR.”
As for Couples’ other two assistants?
”Those two were my natural choices,” Love said. “My next two are going to be harder.”
Davis Love III, a 20-time PGA TOUR winner, shoots for his first win since 2008 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the THE PLAYERS Championship below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson||In dozens of starts, have just one PLAYERS win each|
|Rory McIlroy vs. Rickie Fowler||Rematch of last week's epic playoff at Wells Fargo|
|K.J. Choi vs. Sergio Garcia||Two former champs each won title in a playoff|
|Hunter Mahan vs. Ben Crane||Close friends both have game for TPC Sawgrass|
|Vijay Singh vs. Davis Love III||Love III has two titles here. Singh looking for first.|
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III has withdrawn from the Shell Houston Open.
The development was not entirely unexpected. Love withdrew prior to the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard after hurting his rib on Friday “swinging too hard at buried lies,” he later tweeted. Love said he was having a bone scan on Monday.
Late Monday evening Love tweeted congratulations to Tiger Woods for breaking a 30-month victory drought at Bay Hill and his long-time friend Fred Couples, who won on the Champions Tour Sunday.
“And I am out with a cracked rib, hopefully not too long,” Love tweeted.
Marco Dawson replaced Love in the field at Redstone Golf Club.
ORLANDO – U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III has withdrawn from the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
Love, who shot 74 on Saturday, cited a rib injury for his early exit. About an hour before he was scheduled to tee off with Camilo Villegas on Sunday, Love tweeted: “Had to withdraw, hurt rib Friday swinging too hard at buried lies! Bone scan tomorrow...”