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Forgive my golf obsession, but American men are fading from the forefront in golf the way they faded in tennis about six or seven years ago. And with today being the last day to impress Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin to become a Wild Card selection for the international team competition, not only did nobody step up, but just about everybody under consideration absolutely hashed up their chances. To me, this looks like the worst American Ryder Cup team EVER. Of the eight already on the team, Phil Mickelson has played like he’s utterly lost since blowing another chance for a U.S. Open this summer. Today he hacked up the course with a five-over 76. Hunter Mahan is a CUp veteran and should be fine, even though he has only won two (or is it three) tournaments in his life. Bubba Watson has won only one tournament and is prone to severe nervousness and fits of bizarre tactics. Jim Furyk is solid, as is Steve Stricker. Dustin Johnson is a rising star but still young and still known for trouble closing out victories. Jeff Overton hasn’t won anything on tour, ever, and has faded in the last month. Matt Kuchar should be fine — but again, with only three tour wins, he’s hardly a superstar.
To join them, Pavin has four choices. The first choice is easy: Tiger Woods is finally starting to find his game, and for once in his life he should play BETTER because he’ll be playing for team and country rather than himself: I think the focus on a higher call will bring out a better game than the year-long focus on a self with whom he is angry and disgusted. (So much for my psychologizing.)
So who should the other choices be? Nobody who is a respected absolutely top-notch veteran has made a strong case for himself. The two most accomplished who are anywhere near the top of the points list also are the two whose games at least have been decent in the last month even if not world-beating: former major title winners Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink. I would choose them to join Tiger and this otherwise weak team. But that still leaves one player to choose.
Tops on the points list are Anthony Kim, who has played horrendously since returning (prematurely) from thumb surgery. There is no way he should be chosen while he seems not to be healthy. Next is Lucas Glover, who gagged his way home a few weeks back when he had a real chance to win a tourney and who since then has been mediocre — which is pretty much how he has been ever since winning the U.S. Open in 2009. He shouldn’t be the choie either. Bo Van Pelt? Only one tour win in his life, and that over a second-tier field. Be Crane. Ricke Barnes? Nick Watney? None of them inspire a ton of confidence. Sean O’Hair is next, but is all of a sudden in a big slumpp. And so on down the list. Nobody has a great resume combined with very solid recent play. ANd veterans like Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, David Toms, Kenny Perry, and Scott Verplank all backed up in the past two weeks when they had a chance to step up their games.
Folks, this is bad.
For the final choice, if I were Pavin, I would choose….. Fred Couples. He still hits it a mile. He keeps his team loose and is well liked by his peers. He has had a great year on the senior tour and finished fifth at the Masters. And he played well this week at Pebble on the senior tour.
So there are my picks: Woods, Cink, Johnson, and Couples. Let’s see if Pavin agrees.
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H/T to National Review Online