Old heads or long hitters Your wildcard call, Love
23:39 GMT, 3 September 2012
When America's Ryder Cup captain Davis Love sat down with a small corps of British golf writers at the US PGA Championship recently, he waxed lyrical about the value of experienced hands like Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker.
He talked enthusiastically about Hunter Mahan wanting to make amends for what happened at the last Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, when his clunked chip presented the Europeans with their victory.
Everything said during that fascinating round-table discussion — stay tuned for all the details, later this month — would have led you to believe that all three would get the nod when Love names his four wildcards on Tuesday afternoon.
Off course: Hunter Mahan is one player who finds his Ryder Cup spot in doubt
But, three weeks on, we find ourselves in the remarkable situation where all three could just as easily miss out on the US team for Medinah.
Never before, then, have we seen anything quite like the dilemma confronting Love, who might well have waited to see what happened in the final round of the Deutsche Bank FedEx Cup play-off event in Boston on Monday evening before making his final decision.
Indeed, so close are the plausible claims of seven different candidates that, if you asked 20 fellow pros for their selections, you’d probably get 20 different answers.
In form: Dustin Johnson is making a late charge towards the US team
Furyk and Stricker need little introduction, of course. The former has made his riches showing precisely the sort of grit and stellar short game that defines a great player at a Ryder Cup.
Stricker might be the second best putter in the game behind Luke Donald and solves instantly the conundrum that has foxed so many US Ryder Cup captains: who partners Tiger Woods.
Counting against them is the fact they are the only two candidates without a win in a full-field event this season, and they’re medium-length hitters on a bomber’s course.
Tough choice: US captain Davis Love III must select his four wildcards
Mahan, by contrast, has actually won twice, including the Accenture Match Play where he beat Rory McIlroy in the final. But he has cooled off so dramatically he hasn’t had a top-10 finish since April.
If current form is a prime factor —and surely it should be — you’ve got last week’s winner Nick Watney and in-form Dustin Johnson, who are both long hitters. You’ve got Brandt Snedeker, third in The Open, runner-up last week and another wizard on the greens.
Finally, there’s Rickie Fowler, who beat McIlroy in a play-off to win his first tournament in May and just loves head to head.
Tempting: Rickie Fowler loves the head-to-head nature of the Ryder Cup
A genuine sense of mystery hangs over proceedings, therefore, when Love announces his picks at the New York Stock Exchange.
The skipper will then finish the day by ringing the closing bell.
It is entirely in the nature of being Ryder Cup captain, of course, that he’d better make sure he gets his picks right — or he will find by the end of the month that bell is tolling for him.
I'll have what he's having…
Is there a more remarkable club golfer in these isles than Bill Thomas
On the eve of this year’s Ryder Cup, at a South Herts venue that has so many Ryder Cup connections, Bill will be sworn in as this year’s captain of the London Welsh Golf Society.
And here’s the fabulous twist: he recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Fellow society member Andrew Porter tells me Bill still plays nine holes at society meetings.
‘He looks more like 70 than 100, and is just amazingly fit,’ he says. Golfers are fond of comparing their lives to a round of 18 holes, saying things like they’re now on the back nine when they pass the age of 50, etc. Lucky Bill must feel like he’s playing 36.
Main attraction: Scotland's Carly Booth
On the tee… Carly’s cartwheeling
Organisers of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Liverpool next week are hoping more than 75,000 spectators will turn up, and let’s hope they are right.
The new generation of photogenic talents, like the gifted Scot Carly Booth and the brave English lass Melissa Reid, deserve the support.
Among their backers will be Olympic gymnastics bronze medallist Beth Tweddle, with a couple of the players presently mulling over whether to join her in doing a few cartwheels for the crowd.
This is what’s missing from the men’s game, of course.
Wouldn’t it be fun watching Monty cartwheeling his way to the first tee
Quote of the week
‘Congrats to my niece Cheyenne on winning her first professional event on the SunCoast Ladies Series Tour. Won by four. Very Proud.’
In a rare tweet, Tiger Woods salutes his 22-year-old relative who shares his surname and was the last player taught by Tiger’s late father, Earl.
Cheyenne, who recently graduated from college and who begins her quest for a card to play on the main US Women’s Tour on Monday, comes with an added bonus: she doesn’t throw clubs.
‘I never thought that was a good look on a golfer,’ she says. Now, why can’t her uncle grasp that