Hunter Mahan and Ricky Fowler miss Ryder Cup cut as Davis Love III puts trust in experience
The US captain opts for Stricker and Furyk to do battle with Europe at Medinah
The deepest talent pool in the history of the Ryder Cup is how Davis Love III described the American team he sends out to face holders Europe at Medinah in 22 days' time. Hunter Mahan, twice a winner this year and once in match play at the WGC Accenture, misses out. So too does Ricky Fowler, who famously claimed the final four holes for a half against Eduardo Molinari at Celtic Manor, and who also saw off world No 1 Rory McIlroy in a play-off to triumph at Quail Hollow in June.
Predictably captain Love went for experience in Steve Stricker, who he described as the most consistent golfer on the PGA Tour in the past five years, and Jim Furyk. Dustin Johnson, the form bomber, and putting machine Brandt Snedeker complete Love's four personal selections. Love informed the lucky ones by text and spoke in person to those that missed out.
"I talked to a lot of guys last night. The process was very difficult. I have been on the receiving end a couple of times," he said. "Those 'I didn't pick you, sorry' phone calls are tough, the least thankful part of the job, but part of it nevertheless. Robyn [Mrs Love] and I are pretty good sleepers but that has not been happening much.
"I'm tired of not sleeping and thinking about it too much. This is a pressure part of the year, tough on everyone, but I can't tell you how excited I am that these four guys are going to round our team out. I think we're extremely deep this time, deeper than we've ever been."
The Love four complete a United States team of Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Duffner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson, who qualified via the points system. Woods has won three times this year, Watson and Simpson were first-time major winners at the Masters and US Open respectively, re-inforcing the bookies' view that the home team start favourites despite fielding four rookies to Europe's one.
Love paid tribute to the old hands in the team, men like Mickelson, Woods and vice-captain Freddie Couples, whose advice was influential in arriving at the four picks. "I've had a lot of input. We've been thinking about pairings a lot, based our picks on that. I laid it down early what we needed. We needed experience. Jim [Furyk] is one of the most consistent players on the tour and one of the most respected.
"I've been in the team room with him five times, this will be his eighth team and he was 5-0 in his last international match [the 2011 President's Cup]. Stricker has been the best player in my mind on tour the last five or six years. He's another guy that pairs well with anybody and another great putter, and he's somebody I really trust on and off the course. He's been a great asset to me already getting prepared for this day."
Medinah measures more than 7,600 yards, or as Love put it, the course is "a big ball park", which guaranteed the inclusion of Johnson. "I love Dustin around here. We have a lot of big drivers on this team. He is the best athlete on the team and he's perfect for Medinah. I said I was going to try to plug some holes we had, and I think he does that."
Snedeker, who led the Open Championship at Royal Lytham after 36 holes, putted his way into Love's heart. "We need hot putters and there really hasn't been a hotter putter on tour since the Open. He brings lot to the team room, he can pair with anyone, he's a great asset." Snedeker responded by pledging to make the captain "look like a genius".
Ryder Cup teams
(Ryder Cup caps, matches won, lost, halved and world ranking)
T Woods 36/6/13/14/2/3
B Watson 33/1/1/3/0/8
J Dufner 35/debutant/7
K Bradley 26/debutant/12
W Simpson 27/debutant/5
Z Johnson 36/2/3/3/1/16
M Kuchar 34/1/1/1/2/13
P Mickelson 42/8/11/17/6/22
D Johnson 28/1/1/3/0/14
J Furyk 42/7/8/15/4/30
B Snedeker 31/debutant/18
S Stricker 45/2/3/3/1/10
Average world ranking 13
R McIlroy 23/1/1/1/2/1
J Rose 32/1/3/1/0/9
P Lawrie 43/1/3/1/1/28
G McDowell 33/2/4/2/2/15
F Molinari 30/1/0/2/1/25
L Donald 34/3/8/2/1/2
L Westwood 39/7/16/11/6/4
S Garcia 32/5/14/6/4/17
P Hanson 34/1/1/2/0/34
M Kaymer 27/1/2/1/1/29
I Poulter 36/3/8/3/0/26
N Colsaerts 29/debutant/36
Average world ranking 19
Dates 28 to 30 September
Odds US 8-11; Europe 7-5; Tie 10-1
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