2012 Ryder Cup: Two Names That Davis Love III Should Cross off His List

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2012

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 08:  U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III speaks during a press conference during a practice round of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 8, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Everyone who has tuned in to even one PGA Tour event over the past 12 months has his or her own opinion as to who U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III should select with his four captain’s picks next Tuesday morning.

Nick Watney wins one event after a horrendous season and he’s now in the discussion.

If John Rollins were to win this week in Boston it would be all about “Rollins deserves a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team,” heck, that’s precisely what happened in 2010 after Charley Hoffman came out of nowhere to win the Deutsche Bank Championship. Luckily 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin didn’t buy into the absurd Hoffman hype.

Since 2008, when Paul Azinger instituted the four captain’s selections as opposed to the two that previous captains had been granted, the U.S. has fared very well. They won the 2008 matches and very nearly won the 2010 matches despite a large point deficit heading into the singles matches.

Although the move to four captain’s picks has proven to be successful so far, it can also place even more pressure on captains as with more power comes more responsibility. That cheesy Spiderman line aside, choosing four players is simply more difficult than choosing two, particularly when taking into account the level of parity seen on today’s PGA Tour.

So, here’s a slightly different take on the matter. Instead of trying to tell Love who to select, here are two players he should immediately cross off of his list.

Hunter Mahan:

Mahan currently ranks ninth in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, just one spot outside the Top Eight who automatically qualify for the team.

Mahan is also one of just four multiple winners on tour this year.

However, that was then and this is now.

Both of Mahan’s wins this season came before the Masters. Since that time Mahan has just one Top 10 finish and has missed the cut in his last two events.

Mahan has always been a streaky player. He has the propensity to go on a tear that can last anywhere from a round or two up to a month. In short, Mahan peaked in early 2012 and has been more or less struggling ever since.

That is not necessarily a knock on Mahan either. It has long been said that most PGA Tour professionals play by the 80-70-20 rule—80 percent of players earn 70 percent of their money in just 20 percent of the tournaments they play. Well, Mahan has already reached that 70 percent in 20 percent of his tournaments mark, which means that by selecting Mahan you’d be selecting an ice cold player heading into a three-day pressure cooker.

Brandt Snedeker:

Virtually everyone has Snedeker on the list of captain’s picks for the 2012 Ryder Cup matches. He’s been playing well lately, and most importantly he’s an excellent putter which is a huge asset during team competition.

That being said, the Ryder Cup is a three-day pressure cooker which makes the hands of even season veterans tremble over four foot putts.

Plain and simple, the high-strung antsy Snedeker may not be ready for this type of environment.

Snedeker was leading the Open Championship after 36 holes last month before posting rounds of 73 and 74 over the weekend to finish in a tie for third. Snedeker then went on to miss the cut at the PGA Championship.

Throughout his entire career, Snedeker has just four Top 10s at the majors, including just one Top 10 over the past two years.  And the only two times Snedeker has been in contention at the majors he has let them slip away on the weekend.

Snedeker has won three PGA Tour events, so it’s clear that he has the ability to handle at least some form of pressure. However, handling Sunday pressure at the Wyndham Championship or Farmers Insurance Open is far different from handling Ryder Cup and major championship pressure, and so far Snedeker hasn’t given any real indication that he can remain cool while the furnace is maxed out.

Love’s current list likely includes Mahan, Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Bo Van Pelt, Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas and possibly Watney (although Watney would likely have to have another Top Five finish or better this week to be considered).

As mentioned earlier, choosing four players for the U.S. Ryder Cup team is no easy task. However, cross two names off of that list, and, well, the task becomes at least slightly less daunting.  

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