Weeks of speculation has finally ended as U.S. Captain Tom Watson has selected his 3 wild card picks.
The roster of 12 golfers that will represent the United States at Gleneagles’ PGA Centenary Course in Perthshire, Scotland September 26-28 in the 2014 Ryder Cup is complete.
NBC Studios in New York was the setting for Watson’s announcement. The Golf Channel provided live coverage of the event. Unlike McGinley earlier announcing the European picks, Watson used the traditional format of announcing the picks one-by-one while providing insight on why he chose each golfer.
Nine spots on the U.S. team were earned based on points. The nine players earning automatic nods are:
- Bubba Watson
- Rickie Fowler
- Jimmy Walker
- Jordan Spieth
- Matt Kuchar
- Jim Furyk
- Patrick Reed
- Zach Johnson
- Phil Mickelson
Joining the list, Tom Watson chose Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, and Webb Simpson.
Keegan Bradley has been a given for weeks, if not months now. Now that he officially made the squad, the big question becomes what will he do with the unpacked bag of clothes from Medinah in 2012 that has been famously sitting in his home untouched for 2 years? It’s an effective symbol of the Sunday collapse that cost the Americans the Ryder Cup in Chicago and the redemption theme that will saturate the analysis in the coming weeks. Bradley went 3-1-0 in 2012 and his pairing with Phil Mickelson proved powerful. Watson will surely find out very quickly if there is any magic left in the duo.
Popular opinion was Hunter Mahan’s victory at The Barclay’s 2 weeks ago sealed his fate as a wild card pick. Hunter hadn’t spent any time inside the top 50 of the FedEx Cup standings since April prior to his win. Leading up to the Barclay’s he finished 15th at the Bridgestone and 7th at the PGA Championship to suggest his game is rounding into form at precisely the right time. Let’s hope last week’s 64th place finish is just a hangover from his victory. Mahan finished 25th on the Ryder Cup points list.
Many wondered if Chris Kirk’s win last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship forced him into the conversation for a captain’s pick. Watson instead picked Webb Simpson. Simpson finished 15th on the Ryder Cup points list. He spent the entire year tucked inside the top 20 of the FedEx Cup standings since his win in the very first week of the wrap-around season, way back in October at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open. His season looks impressive on paper with 9 top 10 finishes in 23 events including his win and three 3rd place finishes. A closer look makes you wonder if that’s a little bit of smoke and mirrors though when you notice that he missed 3 cuts in the 4 majors with his only major weekend providing a 45th place at the U.S. Open. Webb is known as an excellent putter and is very good friends with the U.S.’s top point-getter, Bubba Watson. Hopes are high Webb will be able to keep Bubba’s fragile psyche intact in front of what is sure to be as hostile an environment Bubba has played in.
No surprises from the American side, just a bunch of guys looking to get a bad taste out of their mouth after their last experience. Redemption, if it will be achieved, lies just a few weeks away.