With 5 Ryder Cup rookies automatically qualifying for the European squad, Captain Darren Clarke will be looking for veterans to both guide the newcomers and perform in a familiar atmosphere.
One Ryder Cup captain’s pick should be Englishman, Lee Westwood. A mind boggling 9-time Ryder Cupper, Westwood is coming off a bounce back season after a disappointing campaign in 2015. Westwood was runner-up in this year’s Masters tournament, as well as playing in the penultimate pairing in the U.S. Open, playing alongside eventual champion, Dustin Johnson. Westwood brings boatloads of experience along with a fine 2016 season, (Westwood hasn’t missed a cut the entire year). Also, Westwood is a good friend of the man making the picks, Darren Clarke, which is sure to help is case.
The second of the 3 captain’s picks should be former Players, PGA, and US Open champion, Martin Kaymer. A 3-time Ryder Cupper, Kaymer deserves a pick not only because of his veteran presence but also because of the recent form he’s been in. Top 15 finishes this year in the Scottish Open, the PGA Championship and the Olympics have allowed Kaymer to be thrust in conversation for a captain’s pick, and his clutch performances in past Ryder Cups (think Medinah in 2012) push Kaymer over the top for a coveted pick.
The final pick to fill out Darren Clarke’s defending European team should be Soren Kjeldsen. The 41-year old Dane would be a wildcard pick for sure but he is deserving of a chance to make his Ryder Cup debut in 2016. Kjeldsen’s 2016 campaign has been subtly unbelievable. His past results may come as a surprise to some but he has almost anonymously played some great golf in the season’s biggest tournaments. Tied for 33rd in the PGA Championship, Top 25 finishes in the Scottish Open and the Olympics, and Top 10 finishes in The Open Championship (T9), and the Masters (T7) make the diminutive Dane a deserving candidate of Captain Clarke’s last pick.
Adding Westwood, Kaymer, and Kjeldsen to a Ryder Cup team featuring: McIlroy, Stenson, Rose, Garcia, Willet, Wood, Fitzpatrick, Sullivan, and Cabrera-Bello, make the European team a serious threat to retain the cup for a fourth consecutive time.
USA: (Based off Ryder Cup standings prior to The Barclays)
The US Ryder Cup team is absolutely desperate for a Ryder Cup win. The disappointment from the past few Ryder Cups would make Captain Davis Love III to favour players with limited experience and less Ryder Cup letdowns as opposed to veterans who haven’t quite gotten the job done (think Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson).
The first of Love’s 4 captains picks should be Rickie Fowler. The former Players Champion, and 54-hole leader at this weeks Barclays, is a two-time Ryde Cupper. He brings an energy to the American team that has been lacking the past few Ryder Cups. He is also arguably the most patriotic golfer in the world, jumping at every opportunity he can to represent the red, white, and blue. This includes representing the USA at the Olympics, an experience that many other yanks turned down. Currently leading in the Barclays Championship, the first leg of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, Fowler comes in to Ryder Cup season in fine form.
Next, Davis Love III should pick Matt Kuchar. This Olympic bronze medallist and 3-timer Ryder Cupper, Kuchar is currently in fine form, as shown by his bronze medal finish in Rio de Janeiro, highlighted by a final round 63. Also, Kuchar, widely known as ‘one of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour’, is a great team player. He is very versatile which allows him to be paired with nearly every American player. ‘Kooooch’, a mainstay on recent Ryder Cup and President’s Cup teams, is a perfect fit on this years American Ryder Cup team.
Thirdly, a fine acquisition to the American Ryder Cup team would be J.B. Holmes. Holmes was part of the last successful American team, back in 2008. Holmes went 2-0-1 during his three matches, which means that Holmes is undefeated in Ryder Cup team. Holmes is currently the ‘bubble boy’ on the Ryder Cup standings, sitting in ninth position, in a situation where only the top 8 automatically qualified. Although not currently in great form (missing his last 3 cuts), Holmes has 5 top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year. This includes a T4 finish in the Masters, and a solo third finish at the Open Championship. Holmes, although lacking the Ryder Cup experience like that of Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson, is worthy of a spot on the American squad.
Finally, Captain Love should pick his own Assistant Captain, Jim Furyk. Furry has been, by far, the best American golfer since the US Open (where he finished runner-up). Jim is playing great golf as of late, having top 10 finishes in his last two starts. One of these top 10 finishes, a T5 at the Travelers Championship, included a PGA Tour record 58 in the final round. Furyk’s past experience will allow him to help guide youngsters like Brooks Koepka, and Jordan Spieth. However, the experience is only a bonus considering Furyk’s unbelievable play as of late. These are both many reasons as to why Jim Furyk is worthy of making a Ryder Cup team for the, mind boggling, tenth time.
With a loaded team including rising stars like, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed, and experienced veterans like, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, and Zach Johnson, adding Fowler, Kuchar, Holmes, and Furyk would make for a team that is capable for winning the Ryder Cup back for the first time since 2008.