U.S. finalizes Ryder Cup team
NEW YORK — Brandt Snedeker had nothing more than big hopes and another strong finish when he left the TPC Boston, expecting to wait deep into the night for a phone call from Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III that would determine if he was on the U.S. team.
“I had no clue one way or another,” Snedeker said Tuesday. “Got on the plane, got here to Indianapolis and got a voicemail from Davis just asking if I brought my putter from Boston and if I wanted to be on the team. I was just so excited. Couldn’t hardly sleep last night. Just a huge, huge thing for my career.”
Snedeker was among four players whom Love selected to fill out his 12-man Ryder Cup team.
The captain also took a pair of veterans, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, and Dustin Johnson, who showed the hottest hand over the past two weeks and who Love said was “perfect for Medinah.”
The Ryder Cup is Sept. 28-30 at Medinah outside Chicago, which has hosted the PGA Championship twice since 1999 and is known as a power golf course. Tiger Woods won two majors there.
More than power, however, Love emphasized putting.
Stricker is regarded as one of the best in the game, and Snedeker is not far behind, as he showed at the British Open and during his charge up the leaderboard the past two weeks at Bethpage Black and the TPC Boston.
“I’ve been saying a lot that we need hot putters, and there really has not been a hotter putter on tour since the British Open,” Love said, referring to Snedeker, one of four Ryder Cup rookies for the U.S.
There was just as much talk about who didn’t make the team.
Hunter Mahan, whose two PGA Tour wins this year included the Match Play Championship when he beat Rory McIlroy, was leading the Ryder Cup standings after the Masters and still didn’t qualify for the eight automatic spots.
He had to rely on a pick after he missed the cut in the PGA Championship, and then he missed the cut at The Barclays and was in the middle of the pack at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
“The Ryder Cup has been a goal for every American player, and it’s disappointing not to be a part of it,” Mahan said Tuesday from the BMW Championship in Indiana. “I’ve been part of the last five teams, so it hurts not to be a part of it, and it feels a little empty right now. It’s tough because I’ve still got two events to play, and they don’t feel quite as important as I want them to be right now.”
Also left off was Rickie Fowler, who picked up his first PGA Tour win this year at Quail Hollow and turned in the most dynamic American performance at Wales two years ago when he won the last four holes to earn a halve that kept alive the American chances. Fowler has not had a top 10 since a tie for fifth at the Colonial in May.
“I definitely felt like I was kind of on the outside looking in,” he said.
Fowler took a month off between the U.S. Open and British Open to try to stay fresh for the end of the year, and he could only wonder if it cost him. He missed four tournaments, including the Travelers Championship and AT&T National, where he could have earned points.
Love said all the players who didn’t make the team handled the news well.
The eight players who qualified three weeks ago for the U.S. team are Woods, Jason Dufner, Masters champion Bubba Watson, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson. They have combined to win 12 times this year, including two majors and a World Golf Championship.
It’s a far cry from last time, when none of the picks by Corey Pavin was playing particularly well.
Never before has the Ryder Cup featured so many of the best players. All 24 players from both teams are among the top 36 in the world; the Ryder Cup will have 13 of the top 15 players.
“To have 24 players of the top 36 is mind-boggling,” Furyk said. “As Davis said, really happy with our team. It’s really strong, but we have our hands full. There’s a strong team on the other side, and we’ll have to play them real tough.”
Europe has won six of the past eight times, but only twice on American soil in the past 20 years.