The 2010 Ryder Cup has sprung into the golfing world's headlines this week, even as the season's final major, the PGA Championship, began Thursday. And somehow, I don't think it's about the identity of Jeff Overton.
It does involve the captain, though. Pavin, Team USA's Ryder Cup captain, was quoted by Jim Gray—most notable for the debacle broadcast of LeBron James's "The Decision"—to have said that Tiger Woods was a lock to make the team.
Pavin said Wednesday in a press conference that Gray misquoted him, and was considering plenty of other golfers for the Ryder. What happened next was completely unexpected, especially in the pleasant world of golf.
It got ugly. Fingers were pointed, wives are involved, and Gray ended up threatening Pavin by saying, "You're going down."
Press conference brawl aside, is it safe to say Tiger Woods is a lock for the Ryder Cup team? He brings a wealth of experience and would singlehandedly triple the television ratings. However, Woods did not play in 2008 while rehabbing from his reconstructive knee surgery, and does not have a very good track record when it comes to the Ryder.
The top eight Americans in the final Ryder Cup standings automatically make the team, and Pavin gets four Captain's Picks. As of August 8, the top eight are:
1. Phil Mickelson
2. Hunter Mahan
3. Jim Furyk
4. Steve Stricker
5. Jeff Overton
6. Anthony Kim
7. Matt Kuchar
8. Lucas Glover
The elite eight include some free-swinging power hitters, steady putters, and short iron experts. It also includes some question marks, though.
Jim Furyk is the No. 5 player in the world and third on the Ryder Cup points list, but is not outstanding in any statistic. Furyk, with his large looping swing, is ranked 182nd in driving distance and only 79th in greens hit in regulation.
Youngster Jeff Overton is the surprise of the PGA Tour this season, finishing in the top ten in six of his 14 made cuts, including five top three finishes. At first glance, these numbers are outstanding. However, the Ryder Cup does not reward second place. It is win or bust, and Jeff Overton will need to win some points in order to be called a success.
It is hard to imagine that Lucas Glover is an automatic qualifier for the Ryder Cup, thanks to his lowly two top ten finishes. His highest statistical ranking is in driving distance, where he is ranked 23rd with 296.4 yards per drive.
Not to say that these three players will be liabilities in Ryder Cup. They are some of the best players in the world, and deserve to play in the top tournaments. However, they must be paired with the right partner to maximize their potential.
In 2006, Tiger was paired with Jim Furyk, and the pairing won two of the four doubles matches. Woods and Phil Mickelson were paired in 2004, and the results were abysmal. They lost both of their matches together.
Even with his less than stellar past history in the Ryder Cup, Tiger will be a Captain's pick. Look for him to be paired with his good friend, Steve Stricker. Tiger's putting has fallen to hard times recently, so Stricker will be a perfect complement with his steady putter.
Jeff Overton and Anthony Kim would be great partners together, joining Overton's wild consistency and Kim's scary power and unbelievable potential. If Kim can get the ball rolling that weekend, they could be one of the most powerful duos in the tournament.
With Tiger on the roster, Corey Pavin has three other captain's picks to fill. Look for Dustin Johnson, Ben Crane, and J.B. Holmes to claim those spots.
Johnson has been wildly consistent this season, only missing three cuts. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am back in February, and has finished in the top 15 in both The Open Championship at St. Andrews and U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Pebble and Celtic Manor, the location of the Ryder Cup, are similar courses through their bountiful water hazards and risk-reward opportunities, giving Johnson a great chance in the Ryder.
Ben Crane has five top five finishes, including a win at the Farmers Insurance Open way back in January. In May, Crane also finished in the top ten in three consecutive tournaments. Crane is up there with Overton, under the headline of not being able to win tournaments. However, he is a well-rounded player that will be great paired with a veteran like Phil Mickelson.
Lastly, long-ball hitter J.B. Holmes would be a perfect complement to Matt Kuchar. Holmes averages 307 yards per carry, and Kuchar hits over 70 percent of greens in regulation. Those two talents together would mesh and possibly lead to a winning duo. Holmes has only missed one cut this season and was stellar in the 2008 Ryder Cup, winning two matches and halving another.
There is a long way to go before the Ryder Cup in October, but decision will have to be made sooner rather than later. If Corey Pavin would quit his jabbering, he could be creating a winning formula to lead the United States to victory.
Jeff Overton and Anthony Kim
Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker
J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar
Ben Crane and Phil Mickelson
Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk
Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover