Opinion: Why Bubba Watson can bank on having Ryder Cup week offSeptember 15, 2016 News & Tour
Dan Murphy on Team USA's recurring conundrum..
Bubba Watson and Hazeltine just aren’t compatible
The law of unintended consequences strikes again. The USA are now faced with picking the equivalent of the last kid in the playground to complete their Ryder Cup team.
Two years ago, Billy Horschel’s amazing form in the Fed-Ex play-offs came too late for him either to earn a place on the team or gain a wild card pick. The Americans duly arrived at Gleneagles without the hottest player in world golf.
Never again they said, in the latest act of straw-grabbing, we’ll save a pick until after the Tour Championship.
That just happens to be, incredibly unsatisfactorily, the week before the Ryder Cup.
Meaning that Davis Love will name his 12th and final team member on the Sunday evening of the Tour Championship, ahead of his team travelling north and west to Minnesota.
In every sense, that player will be the last man on the team.
It is unlikely that anyone will ‘do a Horschel’ in the near future. That was a freak occurrence.
It is much more likely that the captain will be left to explain why a T12th finish out of the field of 30 at East Lake has convinced him that a certain player is the perfect man to round off his team.
In the case of Bubba Watson, surprisingly excluded from Love’s first three wild card picks, he is surely free to make plans to take his family away for the week once his Tour Championship duties have been completed.
If the World No 7 wasn’t ahead of Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and, especially, JB Holmes in his captain’s considerations then it is hard to see why he would be given the final place.
As the highest-ranked player to miss out on automatic selection, it would have been more logical, surely, to sooth the left-hander’s fragile ego by naming him immediately as a wild card. What more does a two-time Masters champion, and a man still ranked inside the world’s top 10 even after an underwhelming season, have to do to show his captain he can play?
If he was minded to pick Bubba, Love could easily have left Holmes to sweat for another few weeks.
The unavoidable conclusion, for me at least, is that Love is not a fan of Bubba in the Ryder Cup.
Having captained him at Medinah four years ago, he really ought to know. And with an overall record that reads P11 W3 H0 L8, you can see where he is coming from.
It is, let us not mince words, an awful record for a player of his ability.
It is worth pointing out that two of his three matches to date have been on British soil and even Bubba’s biggest fans would not describe him as a great traveller.
In his sole home appearance, he managed a creditable two wins from four games, both of them crushing fourball wins alongside Webb Simpson.
Given that Love’s three picks to date are so conservative, so establishment, he is surely planning something more imaginative with his last one.
Whether that is Kevin Na, Justin Thomas, Ryan Moore or Daniel Berger remains to be seen.
There’s even a school of thought that the man with the worst Ryder Cup record in history, Jim Furyk, is in contention. Surely not.
All we know for now is that picking Holmes wasn’t elementary and it seems Watson is not dear to his captain.
No sh!t, Sherlock.