Love III names Ryder Cup captain's picks

JON McCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:04 AM ET

TORONTO - While everyone was drafting their NFL fantasy team this week, Davis Love III was building a real one.

The U.S. Ryder Cup captain filled out his side’s roster on Tuesday by naming Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker as his four captain’s picks for the upcoming contest.

Watching televised Ryder Cup announcements might seem about as dull as sitting through somebody else’s fantasy sports draft, but golf nuts have been waiting weeks to see who Love would pick to join his squad in Chicago at the end of the month.

The U.S. captain, who seemed a little nervous on Tuesday, led off by naming the big-hitting Johnson, calling him the “best athlete on the team.”

This isn’t the first time we have heard Johnson’s athleticism mentioned during a golf broadcast. American commentators love to point out that he has big hands and feet and can dunk a basketball. Although incredibly interesting, it’s hard to figure out how he can put those skills to use on the golf course.

Sadly for Love, his petition to have a Ryder Cup tiebreaker at Medinah decided by a game of pick-up basketball beside the Michael Jordan statue at the United Center was turned down by the Europeans.

The Euros countered by suggesting 5-on-5 football and Love was about to agree to it before Furyk, who was the second captain’s pick during the news conference, told the North Carolina native that football actually means soccer in European.

Love proudly explained that this was just the kind of veteran experience that Furyk will offer to the team.

Okay, none of that actually happened but if you go to dustinjohnson.com and click on “About Dustin” you will see that his grandfather played basketball, his brother plays basketball and he could palm a ball in Grade 7.

Obviously the Europeans will be game-planning around that.

Furyk’s selection was anything but a slam dunk.

The 42-year-old, who is known for his steady play, has been surprisingly shaky the past few times he has been put to the test, blowing three final-round leads this season. In fact, he wouldn’t have needed to wait for a captain’s pick had he not coughed up a lead on the 72nd hole a month ago.

Furyk had a one-shot lead over Keegan Bradley at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational as he walked to the 18th tee. He hit his drive left into the trees but caught a heckuva break when it ricocheted into the middle of the fairway. Then Furyk airmailed the green with a 7-iron and found himself just behind the greenside bunker in the long grass. His pitch barely got over the bunker and nestled back into the rough. His fourth shot was a brutal chip that left him a five-foot putt for bogey to force a playoff.

What happened next?

“My worst putt of the week,” Furyk would say after the round.

The double bogey cost him a victory that likely would have secured a Ryder Cup spot based on points.

At the U.S. Open this year Furyk bogeyed three of his final six holes to finish in a tie for fourth. When the tees go into the ground at the Ryder Cup later this month, it will be two years plus a day since Furyk’s last PGA Tour victory unless he wins one of the final two tournaments of the FedExCup playoffs.

How did Furyk make the team then?

Love said after talking to his advisors that it was “easy” to select Furyk.

Who are these advisors?

“Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker; guys that have played a lot on these teams have helped me a lot,” Love said on Tuesday.

Ooookay then.

Snedeker was the next pick announced by Love at Tuesday’s news conference.

With top-10 finishes in each of the first two rounds of the FedExCup playoffs, his choice was no surprise. Snedeker is a great putter, a rising star and Love said he is comfortable pairing him with anyone on the team.

Riding the hot hand is a must in golf and the Americans just have to hope the Ryder Cup rookie stays hot until the end of the month.

The addition of Snedeker means the Americans will have four rookies on their team compared to just one — Nicolas Colsaerts — on the European team.

The last pick Captain Love named on Tuesday was Stricker.

Love added to the hilarity of the event by explaining that the order of his announcements was based on height.

That’s about as wacky as you’re going to get from a guy with a third generation name.

Stricker’s place on the team was never in doubt. He’s one of the best putters in the game and is a favourite partner of Tiger Woods.

’Nuff said.

Padraig Harrington said a couple of weeks ago that if you don’t make it on the team by points, you have no right to complain.

Nevertheless, Hunter Mahan isn’t a happy camper this week.

The 30-year-old is a two-time winner this season, including a win at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship where he beat Rory McIlroy in the final.

Mahan was dying for a chance to redeem himself after a chunked chip at Celtic Manor in Wales handed the Ryder Cup to Europe in 2010.

When asked for comment Tuesday after a practice session at this week’s BMW Championship, Mahan used the word “empty” five times to describe how he felt.

Empty.

That’s the one thing the Americans are hoping not to be at the end of the week this time around at the Ryder Cup.


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