Each week, four of the NCG team get together to ask each other the pressing questions. In this Ryder Cup edition of Fourball, Alex Perry, Dan Murphy, James Savage and Steve Carroll take to the tee to discuss whether Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson should make the US team and much more…
Alex: The eight US qualifiers are confirmed: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson. Who do you think Jim Furyk will take as his wildcards and who would you take if you were in his shoes?
Dan: I think he will take Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau. Personally, I would take Tiger, Kuch, BDC and Xander Schauffele. I don’t see how he can’t take Phil – he is surely compromised because they are friends and peers and Ryder Cup colleagues for over 20 years. I think Europe would think Phil was quite a juicy draw. The Americans have moved on since building teams – unsuccessfully – around Furyk, TW and Phil. They should continue to do so.
James: Tiger, DeChambeau, Schauffele. And then you have to wait until the last minute to see who is in form. I think Mickelson should do the decent thing and take Tiger’s place as a vice-captain. If I was picking someone today it’d be Kuchar as he’s steady and can pretty much play with anyone. I could see him playing with Tiger.
Steve: I think this is a fairly simple equation for Jim, actually. Tiger definitely goes. There is no way he isn’t giving Phil a wild card. It should be about form, but it won’t be. The guy has qualified for 11 Ryder Cups, he’s getting a free pass for one. I actually think Simpson and Watson could be the weak links in this team, so I’d also be surprised if steady Kuchar isn’t in the mix. That leaves only one. I’d go for Tony Finau as I think he could be an absolute monster in fourballs when he gets on a birdie blitz.
Dan: Paul Casey has just dropped out of the automatic spots. I’m curious: would you give him a wild card and if so who would you pair him with?
James: We have to put our feelings about Casey as to one side. Providing he’s showing some sort of form over the next month, I’d pick him. He’s still a vastly experienced and fantastic player. He has a decent matchplay record and is someone I don’t think the US will relish coming up against. I’d play him with either Molinari or Noren. I watched him play a practice round with Noren at The Open which may have been no more than a coincidence. Maybe having a player who will wind up the opposition a little bit wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Steve: No, although I think Bjorn will. If he divides opinion in the team room as much as he appears to in the wider game then get the pairing wrong and it could be Tiger and Phil at Oakland Hills all over again. Someone like Tommy Fleetwood, a man who doesn’t seem to get upset by anything, would have been the perfect foil but Paul might even have messed that one up thanks to a redundant set of clubs. Justin Rose was very positive when Casey made himself eligible for selection and he might be the one to take on the job.
Alex: The so-called “veterans” need to be in scintillating form to get a pick and should not rely on past records. Couple this with his, shall we say, questionable personality, and I would have to overlook him in favour of someone like Thomas Pieters or Rafa Cabrera Bello. If Casey is there, Fleetwood seems the obvious choice. They were paired – and won – at the EurAsia Cup.
So do the team think Europe’s run of form is coming to an end at Le Golf National? Fourball continues on the next page…