Watson adds 3 wild cards to Ryder Cup team for U.S.

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Watson adds 3 wild cards to Ryder Cup team for U.S.

NEW YORK - United States captain Tom Watson, helped by a late “revelation,” opted for experience and form in choosing Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wild-card picks for this month’s Ryder Cup against Europe.

Watson announced the three former Ryder Cup players during a glitzy news conference at Studio 8H, the home of “Saturday Night Live,” at Rockefeller Plaza.

They join automatic choices Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson on the 12-man American team.

“There were several people in the mix for my three picks,” said Watson. “Experience was a big factor. All three [wild-card] players have either an even record or a winning record playing in the Ryder Cup.”

The Americans will take on Paul McGinley’s European team, the holders, in the 40th edition of the biennial competition from Sept. 26 through 28 at Gleneagles in Scotland.

Bradley, 28, has won three times on the PGA Tour, including his first major crown at the 2011 PGA Championship and was undefeated in the Ryder Cup team play as a rookie after being paired with Mickelson at Medinah two years ago.

A passionate player, Bradley’s only defeat came at the hands of Rory McIlroy in the singles on the final day, when Europe staged an improbable comeback to retain the cup.

“I’ve made no secret of how important this team is to me and how bad I want to go back and win the Ryder Cup,” Bradley said. “This is a redemption year for a lot of guys that were on the [2012] team.”

Mahan, 32, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Valhalla in 2008, missed out on selection in 2012, but returns to the team for a third time after winning his sixth PGA Tour title at The Barclays nine days ago.

“That was a huge, timely win,” Mahan said of his victory in the opener of the four-event FedEx Cup playoffs. “I knew my game was coming around, I felt that things were right there.

“I had a calm, a great confidence, and I went out there and played well. That win was massive for the FedEx Cup and for the Ryder Cup team.”

Simpson, 29, has won four times on the PGA Tour, including the 2012 U.S. Open, and also made his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah. A rock-steady player, he has recorded two top-10s in his last three PGA Tour starts.

Among the players to miss out on a wild-card pick were Chris Kirk, who made a late bid for selection by winning the elite Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts on Monday, and 2012 FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker.

“That was a hard phone call to make,” Watson said of Kirk. “Even though he had a good tournament, you look at the long haul, and I just had the feeling that the other three players were probably better suited for it.

“And adding one more rookie was probably not good for the team.”

Had Kirk made the team, he would have been the fourth U.S. rookie after Walker, Spieth and Reed.

Reuters




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