Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stricker Captain's Pick for 2012 Ryder Cup

The 2012 Ryder Cup is going to be staged right in my backyard at Medinah Country Club in Chicago, IL from September 28th to September 30th.  That weekend I will be in Door County, WI for a family vacation with Cheesehead Chick, Mama Cheese, Papa Cheese, and In-Law-Cheese with the six of us going to the Packers/Saints game at Lambeau Field.  I am looking forward to that weekend for sure, the only bummer is that I will be unable to root on the United States in-person at my favorite bi-annual golf event that pits the United States v. Europe.

The automatic qualifiers (in alphabetical order) for the United States for the 2012 Ryder Cup are Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods.  That left Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III with four more slots to fill.  Love smartly choose Steve Stricker as one of his four captain's picks along with Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, and Brandt Snedeker.

I am obviously biased based on my admiration for the Midwestern Cougar of the PGA Tour aka Steve Stricker.  The 2012 Ryder Cup will be Stricker's 3rd Ryder Cup appearance, he is 3-3-1 (1-1-0 in Foursomes, 1-1-1 in Four-ball, and 1-1-0 in singles).  Most pundits point to Stricker's impressive putting prowess as his reason for being a captain's pick but despite winning the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Stricker has been an average putter at best this year.

All kidding aside, Stricker's Midwestern values guaranteed him being a captain's pick this year.  While almost every golfer not so secretly hates Tiger Woods, Stricker is just too nice of a guy to be mean to Woods so Stricker and Woods have been paired together in both the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup.  Stricker and Woods are 6 and 2 as partners at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, thanks in large part to going 4 and 0 at the 2009 Presidents Cup.  Combining all those factors, despite being merely average in strokes gained putting this year, since Stricker is healthy he was a lock to be one of the four captain's picks.

The only captain's pick I question is Furyk because even by Furyk's own admission, 2012 was one of his most disappointing seasons on the PGA Tour.  Although Furyk has been a part of every Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team since 1997, his streak should have ended this year.  Furyk is 8-15-4 and an absolutely horrendous 1-8-1 in four-ball (best ball) for his Ryder Cup career.  Add in that Furyk collapsed down the stretch at the 2012 US Open to gift Webb Simpson his first Major and I don't think Furyk's "experience" makes him a good guy to have on the team this year.

Although there are a number of impressive American golfers, the only players omitted from the team worth noting are Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, and Bo Van Pelt.  Since I agree with Love choosing Johnson, Snedeker, and Stricker I would have to choose to between Fowler, Mahan, Watney, and Van Pelt in place of Furyk if I was Love.  Despite being close to winning a number of times in 2012, Van Pelt never actually won so that eliminates him.  Watney preformed well as of late but I am not sure if that will carry through to the end of September so that eliminates him too.

That leaves Fowler and Mahan, who have struggled as of late, but are both very impressive match play golfers.  Mahan won twice on the PGA Tour this year, with one of those wins coming over Rory McIlroy at the WGC-Match Play Championship.  Last time I checked, the Ryder Cup is a match play event so I would have taken Mahan over Furyk.

Good luck to the Midwestern Cougar and the rest of his teammates, I will be cheering you on from Lambeau Field with an eye towards attending the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Cheeseahead country.

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