In just one month, the best golfers in the United States will face the most talented golfers of Europe in the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National just outside Paris, France; or at least that is what is supposed to happen. Or is it? Are the teams supposed to include the most talented, the most rewarding, or the hottest players right now? That is a very difficult question to which Jim Furyk must have the answer.
Furyk is a first time Ryder Cup captain and is most likely feeling all the pressure as it creeps closer. He captains a United States team that has eight automatic qualifiers, and then four captain’s picks left solely for him to decide. His predicament is not a new one, as nearly every captain must make some controversial decisions in regards to their team, although what those decisions may be is subject to change. Sometimes, there seems to simply not be enough legitimate talent to fulfill the spots. In Furyk’s case, there are too many qualified candidates for just four spots. So the question remains: who should he select?
The decision regarding Tiger is a very interesting one. At this time last year, no one was really sure if he would ever be playing golf again. Now he is ranked 25th in the FedEx Cup, 26th in the world, has a scoring average of 69.521, five top-10 finishes this season, and has nearly won two majors; the only thing missing is a win. That sounds like an impressive resume to me, and I do not see how Woods could be left off of the team. Through his previous seven appearances on the US Ryder Cup team, he has accumulated 14.5 points. Regardless, Woods will be in France in September as a Vice Captain.
Mickelson obtained his first victory in nearly five years this past March with a win at the WGC Mexico Championship. He is ranked 10th in the FedEx Cup, was ranked 10th in the Ryder Cup standings when they finished, 24th in the world, and posts a 2018 scoring average of 69.865. He has also competed on every single US President’s and Ryder Cup team since 1994, acquiring 21.5 Ryder Cup points in that span. How can you deny a Ryder/President’s Cup legend, one of golf’s greatest players of all time, who is playing some of his best golf as of late a spot on this year’s team? I’ll answer that: you cannot.
DeChambeau finished just one spot away from automatically qualifying for the US Ryder Cup team, and was considered a borderline pick before this previous week. The, he went and captured his second win of the season and third of his career at The Northern Trust, the tour’s first playoff event. He now sits alone at the top of the FedEx Cup standings and has two huge victories this season, the other coming at The Memorial, Jack Nicklaus’ event at Muirfield Village. To add to that he also boasts eight top-10 finishes this year, and $6.2 million in prize money. If that is not enough to make the Ryder Cup team, I do not know what is.
The last pick always seems to be the most difficult. There seems to be a strong debate between Finau, Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, and Xander Schauffele. But Tony Finau may end up benefiting from the so-called “Billy Horschel rule,” where the final captain’s pick is made after the previous three to ensure the best player is selected. He is coming off of a second place finish at The Northern Trust, his 9th top-10 finish of the year, and now ranks 4th in the FedEx Cup standings. Two of the other three candidates mentioned, Kuchar and Kisner, both finished outside the top-50, with Schauffele missing the cut at the event. When deciding the captain’s picks, you have to consider simply who is playing the best golf right now, which includes Tony Finau.
At the end of the day, you cannot vote against the veteran leadership of Woods and Mickelson, and the recently stout play of both Finau and DeChambeau. Jim Furyk will make his first three captain’s picks on September 3rd after the conclusion of the Dell Technologies Championship, and the last coming on September 9th after the BMW Championship.
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