U.S. captain picks wild cards for the Ryder Cup
NEW YORK - United States captain Davis Love III opted for a blend of experience and form in choosing Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker as his wild-card picks for this month’s Ryder Cup against Europe.
Love announced Cup veterans Furyk and Stricker, along with 2010 debutant Johnson and rookie Snedeker, as his four selections during a news conference at the Nasdaq headquarters in Times Square on Tuesday.
The quartet will join automatic choices Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson on the 12-man American team.
“We’re looking to match guys up, we’re looking for pairings, we’re looking to plug some holes, we’re looking to add some experience, add some putters,” Love said of his four selections.
“These guys all fill those roles perfectly. I think we’ve got a great team. I think we’re extremely deep this time, deeper than we’ve ever been.
“There are four great players that we have picked that are all playing very well and bring a lot to the team. I felt like in the end we rounded out our 12 the best way we knew how.”
The 2012 U.S. team, led by world number three Woods, includes five of the top-10 ranked players, and 10 of the top 20.
Furyk, a 42-year-old veteran of seven Ryder Cups, will bring considerable experience to the U.S. lineup and is known for being very adaptable in team play with a variety of partners.
Stricker, acknowledged as one of the best putters in the game, is a 12-time PGA Tour champion who has partnered with Woods successfully on several U.S. teams at both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
The long-hitting Johnson, a six-times PGA Tour winner who made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago in Wales, cemented his selection by tying for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday.
Snedeker, who is also renowned for his putting, won his third PGA Tour title at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and will make his debut in the biennial competition.
“I laid it out early on what I thought we needed, and we stuck with it,” said Love. “I need Jim Furyk, I need Steve Stricker. All of the guys on the team will benefit from those guys being in the locker room.
“And then you can’t argue with the golf that Brandt and Dustin have been playing. So I think it matched up well, and it really did kind of lay right out there for us.”
Snedeker and Johnson effectively played their way on to the team over the last two weeks when they were the only two Americans who finished in the top six in the first two events of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoffs.
Snedeker, 31, will be the fourth rookie in the U.S. lineup, joining Dufner, Bradley and U.S. Open champion Simpson.
“It’s been a pressure-packed couple of weeks for me, but it’s been all worth it,” Snedeker said via telephone. “It’s such a huge opportunity for me to be in my first Ryder Cup. I look forward to getting to Medinah and trying to make Davis look like he’s a genius and play as good as I possibly can.”
The most notable omission by Love was Hunter Mahan, a double winner on the PGA Tour this year who made his Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor in Wales two years ago.
“It was tough to leave anybody off,” said Love, a veteran of six Ryder Cups as a player. “There were a lot of guys that have played a lot of really good golf.
“You could analyze the numbers up and down and back and forth. We could have gone very deep this year down the points list.
“It was tough to make the phone calls. That was the hardest part. It’s probably the least thankful part of the job, but it’s part of the job. The decisions on our four players was actually a lot easier than I thought.”
The United States will take on Jose Maria Olazabal’s European team, the holders, at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago from September.
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