Ryder Cup 2012: Who Will Be Left off Team USA?

Fred AltvaterContributor IIAugust 6, 2012

Who will make the 2012 Ryder Cup Team
Who will make the 2012 Ryder Cup TeamDavid Cannon/Getty Images

The first Ryder Cup matches were held in 1927 at the Worcester Country Club, in Worcester, Mass.  The 39th Ryder Cup matches will be held at the Medinah Country Club, near Chicago, Ill., September 28-30.

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal will have another very strong team. The Europeans currently hold the cup from their 14.5-13.5 win at Celtic Manor in 2010.

Eight Team USA members qualify automatically based on points earned through competition in PGA Tour events throughout 2011, to the conclusion of the PGA Championship, on August 12.

Team USA's captain, Davis Love, will then make four picks to round out the team in September.

The captain's picks will help to fill voids in the team. Short-game specialists are chosen to match up with long hitters for the two-man team competitions. Veteran players are chosen to match up with Ryder Cup rookies.

Davis Love will have some very interesting choices this year. 

The top 15 golfers on the current Ryder Cup points list are all very strong and would be excellent choices to join the team.

Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson currently make up the top eight qualifiers.

The first seven players not on the team—Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, and Bill Haas—will be hoping for calls from Davis Love.

Hunter Mahan has two wins in 2012, and one of those was the WGC-Accenture, a match-play event.  He took down Rory McIlroy in the final for his win.

Ryder Cup is all about match play. Hunter will be on Team USA.

Whether or not Steve Stricker earns enough points next week to make the team, Love will certainly pick him to provide a partner for Tiger Woods in the team events. Woods-Stricker has been a very formidable duo in past Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches. 

Stricker makes the team.

This is where things get a little sticky. There are three quality players and only two spots left on the American team.

Jim Furyk is next on the points list. He is a veteran that has been on seven Ryder Cup and seven Presidents Cup teams. Furyk has 16 PGA Tour wins and a U.S. Open trophy. He is a gritty grinder that makes an excellent partner in team matches.

He can still move into the top eight with a good performance at the PGA Championship this week.

You have to think that Davis Love wants Jim Furyk on the team.

Dustin Johnson has one win in 2012, the St. Jude Classic at Memphis, and would make a great team member. Injuries kept him out of action for over two months early in the season. He missed the cut at the Olympic Club but was T-9 at Royal Lytham. 

Rickie Fowler played very well as a captain’s pick in the 2010 Ryder Cup. He has a win in 2012 but has not been quite as consistent over the balance of the year. 

Fowler had a second place finish at the Players and was T-5 at the Crowne Plaza, but his last three starts have been T-52, T-41, T-31 and T-60 at Akron.

Rickie adds flash and brings young people to the party.

Will he get picked again this year?

Two additional players with long shots to make the team are Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker.

Bill Haas won the 2011 FedEx Cup and picked up a win in 2012 at Riviera in a playoff over Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. 

In his last eight events, however, he has four missed cuts and has only one top-25 finish. 

Unless Haas earns a bunch of points at the PGA Championship, don’t expect to see him on the Ryder Cup team.

Brandt Snedeker has been injury free in 2012 and has had a great year, but he will need to finish very high at the PGA Championship to earn enough points to make the team in the next two weeks.

A sleeper pick is Bo Van Pelt, who is No. 15 on the Ryder Cup points list. A good finish at the PGA or a win in one of the first two FedEx Cup Playoff events could move him into the conversation.

Davis Love will make his four picks sometime in September, usually after the second FedEx Cup Playoff tournament. A win at the Wyndham Championship or in the playoffs for any of the aforementioned players will move said player up the list.

The American team for the Ryder Cup is beginning to take shape. All of these choices for Davis Love are good ones.

Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Bo Van Pelt and Bill Haas would all make excellent team members. 

If one of them moves up into the top eight after the PGA, the player that gets bumped down becomes the first Captain’s pick.