With the Ryder Cup team selection only a few weeks away we're getting down to crunch time. The Euros look stronger than ever, but U.S. captain Corey Pavin is on the hot seat to make sure every one of his picks counts. As the points leaders start to sort themselves out, Bleacher Report's Kathy Bissell gives us the rundown on who's in, who's out and who's on the fence.
Right now the top eight, in order, are Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods. A formidable group. If there’s any slippage by Woods or Kuchar, the next four on the list are Hunter Mahan, Jeff Overton, Ricky Barnes and Ben Crane.
Who would you pick of the next eight or so players?...
Hunter Mahan has won on the PGA Tour and has Ryder Cup experience. He went 2-0-3 in 2009 for 3 ½ points, the most of any US player. You can bet he gets picked if he doesn’t rise in the points...
Faced with a team of five lock veterans with the probable lock of Woods, Pavin definitely has three mystery picks if Woods doesn’t make it on points and four if he does. There’s no way he leaves Woods off the team unless Woods asks to be left off. As Paul Azinger said, you always want the best player in the world on your team.
For certain, Stewart Cink gets a nod, and so does Hunter Mahan. Pavin then has two remaining choices, assuming Woods makes it on points...
Does he dare go with untested Ben Crane or Jeff Overton? With his legacy riding on it, Pavin will have to know something that the rest of us don’t. In the end, it may come down to personal relationships. Who does Pavin like and believe in his heart can go the distance.
Who would I pick today: Stewart Cink, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, and I might go farther down the list to Ryan Moore who won everything in the world at match play as an amateur.
Bissell has some great insight and reasons out a lot of possible scenarios. As for her suggested captain's picks, I agree that Cink and Mahan are no-brainers, both in terms talent and team-building. Fowler's a bit of a wild card, but I think he's a great fit not just because he's one of the 10 best American players, but because he will be for the foreseeable future--and as we've seen with Sergio Garcia, starting kids in the Ryder Cup as young as possible can create longtime stalwarts for your team (no comment on what that means for actual career success).
As for the last spot, I think Moore's a decent choice (as would be Ricky Barnes for the same reasons), but I'd rather see Boo Weekley out there. This team's just too professional, too stodgy. As the 2004 Red Sox found out, it never hurts to have a character guy in the clubhouse, and there's no question that Boo Weekley is that kind of guy.
Is there a player of the year?
Speaking of tough choices, at the end of the season somebody is going to have his hands around the Jack Nicklaus Award. With Tiger not at his best, and a slew of top players hurt and/or under-preforming, it seems like the Tour is in an era of unparalleled parity, which begs the question: who's the player of the year? Don't worry, Fanhouse's Mick Elliott doesn't know either.
The PGA Tour season is steaming hard toward the home stretch and there's something noticeably missing. Namely, a player of the year.
With the majors down to only next month's PGA Championship, the 2010 season is looking very much like an interesting story with no ending.
Phil Mickelson won the Masters and has done little else.
Relatively unknown Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open and Louis Oosthuizen was an even bigger surprise in the British, but what else have they done?
Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Steve Stricker are the season's only multiple winners, all with two titles -- but none of them majors.
Tiger Woods may be Player of the Year, but he hasn't done diddly on a golf course.
So what happens if they give an award and nobody deserves it?
Eventually, someone will break away from the pack, whether it's at Whistling Straits or in the playoffs, but the lack of even a clear favorite at this point in the year makes me wonder if this is the most (for lack of a better term) "boring" PGA Tour season in recent memory. I have nothing against the Graeme McDowells and Louis Oosthuizens of the world getting their share of wins (even major wins), but I'd like them to do it in more dramatic fashion than they've had to this year. Heck, Justin Rose may even be my pick at the moment (who would have said that at the beginning of the year), although it's hard to get excited about a guy who didn't even qualify for the U.S. Open. Regardless, I think Elliott sums it up perfectly:
Please, somebody do something.
Future's Tour blows it, won't blow it again
Under-reported story out of the Duramed Futures Tour this weekend, where rookie Sarah Brown became the first true victim of the new USGA groove change. She was pulled off the course mid-round and DQ'd after a rules official mistakenly thought her wedge did not conform. At the very least, the Tour is taking the matter seriously as Golfweek's James Achenbach reports.
Had Brown been allowed to finish her round, officials would have had
more than two hours while she played to make a definitive ruling.
Brown has made four cuts in eight events this season and earned $2,921 to rank 106th.
“From a procedural perspective, we have to make sure our rules
officials do not make a hasty decision,’’ Calderon said. “We need to
stay in contact with LPGA rules officials or the USGA. This is
something I would have liked to have happened, but it didn’t. We regret
the mistake. The rules official in this case did not pursue other
options available to him. It is too bad he didn’t step back and
determine whether he had all the information to make that decision.
“Most of the time, rulings are black and white. These lists of conforming and nonconforming clubs are more complex. This is truly new territory.”
Dick Rugge, the USGA’s senior technical director, said then in explaining the action: “You always have to get all the facts.”
In Brown’s case, a groove testing apparatus was on site but was never used.
“I asked him (Linyard) what he would do if he was wrong,” said Keith
Brown, who was caddying for his daughter. “What if he disqualified
Sarah and later found out he was wrong? How would he rectify that? He
refused to answer. He said: ‘The club is illegal. Sarah is
disqualified.’ That was it. It was like giving someone the death
penalty on hearsay.”
Linyard and Wergin are fulltime rules officials for the Duramed
Futures Tour, which has been the developmental tour for the LPGA since
1999. Wergin carries the title of head rules official.
“Our rules officials are dedicated to their jobs,” Calderon said.
“Because the equipment rules are so complex, we had the USGA come to
the tour and spend several days with our rules officials. We also have
an LPGA rules official who oversees the Duramed Futures Tour rules
Obviously, mistakes happen, and the biggest mistake here was the rules official pulling Brown off the course rather than simply letting her finish out her round (you can always DQ someone...you can't un-DQ them). On the whole I'm impressed with how seriously the Futures Tour is taking the situation--after all, this is a rookie who's made less than $3,000 playing pro golf, so it would have been really easy to sweep this under the rug and just say "whoops, it won't happen again," but Calderon and Co. seem to realize that the official screwed up big time.
However, I'm less than impressed with the Tour's excuse that the rules are too "complex." Not only do the officials have lists telling them which clubs are conforming (Brown's wedge was on the list--the official somehow misread his), and equipment to test whether or not they are conforming (the official declined to use the one on hand), but something tells me if you took two minutes to call over the local Ping rep, he or she would have been happy to lend a hand. I don't expect to see this sort of mistake creep onto the PGA or LPGA Tours (where everyone is cautious to a fault), but it definitely doesn't instill a whole lot of confidence in the judgment of these rules officials. The real question? Will Brown be getting a check to make up for her lost weekend?