THE US Ryder Cup team was finalised yesterday and to be perfectly honest, the four players selected – Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker – were the ones I’d predicted would be chosen, and the ones I’d have gone for if I’d be picking the team.
But it has to be said that those four could well be the best of a bad bunch. The European team won’t have any concerns about them at all, and each of those four players would have been better to have been one of the initial eight picks.
There’s a lot of onus on the four wildcard selections, and I think that’s a mistake on the Americans’ part. The top eight ranked players know they’ve earned their places but there’s more pressure on the other four which means there’s scope for doubts for four US players, and that’s only the case for two Europeans because their top 10 go straight in to the team.
EUROPE LOOK STRONGER
I still think the European team looks superior – they’re extremely strong. In the last six weeks, they’ve become favourites for me as they’ve 12 very capable players.
For the US, Johnson is a long hitter, which will be an obvious asset to the team, particularly at Medinah, but that’s not the only reason he’s going.
Of the other three, Snedeker’s obviously been picked on form; Stricker’s a wonderful putter, and Furyk is also worth keeping an eye on. He’s just at the right age for the Ryder Cup; his experience is still very valuable and his game is still good enough to live up to it.
Those that didn’t make the team, notably Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan, have struggled. It came as a surprise the last time Fowler was picked, in 2010, and he performed admirably. He should have pushed on and made the team this year, but his time will come. For Mahan, you have to question how much damage that fluffed chip at Celtic Manor two years ago would have done for his confidence; that could have been in the back of US captain Davis Love’s mind.
Another boost for Europe’s hopes, of course, is Rory McIlroy’s victory at the Deutsche Bank Open for his third PGA Tour title of the year. It’s another part of the bigger picture of what Europe has achieved in the last six weeks.
He was fantastic, and that he’s playing so well at this point in time is obviously important.
Tiger Woods finished third and he was also great; he’s going to be a handful at the Ryder Cup but that won’t make him any more ominous to the Europeans; that he is who he is does that alone.
I’d also like to congratulate Richie Ramsay. It’s a good time for the Scottish with his European Masters win and with Paul Lawrie’s the week before.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer, former captain of the European team, and media commentator.