With the European Ryder Cup roster set as of last week, all eyes are on Davis Love III and the American team. The former top 10 golfer, currently in his second stint as captain of Team USA, will need to make some important decisions over the next few weeks.
The Ryder Cup, a biennial team match play competition between the United States and Europe, is one of the most thrilling and prestigious events in golf — watch this year’s action if you don’t believe me. Each side consists of 12 players, but only eight Americans are locked into place at the moment. Love will make the first three of his four captain’s picks after this week’s BMW Championship, and he’ll make his final choice shortly after the Tour Championship ends on Sept. 25.
This is a major decision for Love — probably the biggest one he’ll have to make during his time as captain. Six of the European team’s 12 players will be first-timers at the Ryder Cup, but their top-heavy roster still has the potential to inflict major damage. World No. 3 Rory McIlroy’s spectacular Labor Day win at the Deutsche Bank Championship served as a chilling reminder of what the four-time major champion can do when he is playing well.
The only problem: several of Love’s prominent potential picks are struggling at the moment. Bubba Watson hasn’t found the top 10 at a regular event since February. The normally consistent Matt Kuchar has been cold since winning the bronze at the Rio Olympics. Rickie Fowler fell victim to an ugly final round collapse at The Barclays, and he didn’t rebound well at the Deutsche Bank.
Regardless of recent results, all three of those players will draw heavy consideration. But Love, who captained the losing American team at the 2012 Ryder Cup, has consistently stressed the importance of giving hot players a chance to shine. This could indicate an impending changing of the guard for Team USA.
Ryan Moore, for example, has the potential to be a valuable addition to Team USA. The Washington native is a five-time PGA Tour winner and former U.S. Amateur champion, so he’s used to the big stage. More importantly, he won last month at the John Deere Classic and has notched back-to-back top 10s to start the FedEx Cup playoffs. Watson’s green jackets are impressive but relatively insignificant in the context of assembling a winning Ryder Cup team. Moore may never win a major, but he could provide just the spark his country needs this year.
Moore isn’t the only outside-the-box pick to consider — Gary Woodland and Tony Finau are also in the midst of hot stretches, while Kevin Na has had a remarkably consistent season. If Love really wants to win, he needs to weigh all his options, not just the household names.
Team USA doesn’t lack experience, returning seven players to the Europeans’ six. Because of this, Love should focus less on pedigree when making his picks and fill out his roster with at least a couple of hot hands. It won’t be as good for marketing, but the legions of fans in red, white and blue will come to thank him.