It might sound strange but I think that Rickie Fowler’s failure to reach the final event of the FedEx Cup playoffs may just have clinched his place as one of USA captain Davis Love III’s Ryder Cup wild cards.
There were few shocks in Love’s decision to name Matt Kuchar and JB Holmes as captain’s picks on Monday but I was little surprised that he opted for Fowler over Bubba Watson in his team to face Europe later this month.
Fowler has not won a Ryder Cup match in eight attempts, halving three and losing five, and has a much worse record than Watson, who has won three and lost eight matches, so Love must have a plan for him.
It’s always a difficult decision for a captain and, on the face of it at least, was not made any easier when Fowler’s performance at the BMW Championship last week left him just outside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup, meaning he won’t play in the Tour Championship next week.
But I wonder if it didn’t help Love make up his mind. He has one more pick left to complete his 12-man team, which he won’t name until after the Tour Championship and just days before the Ryder Cup starts.
If Love were weighing up between Fowler and Watson, he might find it even more difficult to pick Fowler after a tournament in which he won’t even have the opportunity to impress.
Now that Fowler is confirmed, I expect Love will pick Watson for the last place, with Jim Furyk the only obvious alternative, unless someone comes from nowhere in the next fortnight.
Despite being one of Love’s vice-captains, I thought Furyk would have a good chance of a wild card. His form has been outstanding since his return from injury and he offers a wealth of experience, although to some extent Phil Mickelson, who qualified for the team, can fill that role.
Johnson the man to beat
The team will boast unquestionably the most in-form player of the moment in Dustin Johnson, who won the BMW Championship on Sunday – his third title in his last eight events.
US Open champion Johnson mustered some amazing shots under intense pressure from England's Paul Casey on the final round, and that kind of experience can carry you through difficulties many times over in future.
He is now on course to win the FedEx Cup and will be the man to beat at the Tour Championship too. Johnson is driving better than ever and the wide fairways of East Lake should suit him.