Back 9: Pavin Fills Out U. S. Ryder Cup TeamWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The 38th Ryder Cup will be contested at Celtic Manor in Wales, Oct. 1-3. Eight American players automatically qualified for the team by accumulating points over the past two years. On Tuesday, September 7th, American Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin chose his four Captain’s Picks to complete the twelve man team.
The eight that qualified for the team include four veterans with Ryder Cup experience: Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, and Steve Stricker. The rest of the team will be thrust into the Ryder Cup limelight for the first time: Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Jeff Overton.
Kuchar, Johnson, and Watson have all had an exceptional year in 2010. All have wins on the PGA Tour and all have experienced the intense competitive pressure of a major championship. None of these Ryder Cup Rookies have a major win but they have all been at or near the lead on the final day of a major.
Three of the four players that Pavin picked to round out the team include: Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, and Stewart Cink. All have been on numerous Ryder Cup, as well as, President Cup teams and all have major championship victories. The fourth member of the group is tour rookie, Rickie Fowler. Fowler adds youth, brashness, and color to the team, as well as, a younger demographic for the television coverage.
Pavin needs the experience that Woods, Zach Johnson, and Cink bring to the team. Woods will be paired with Stricker in the team events but Johnson and Cink can be paired with the younger players and add a measure of stability to their play.
Mickelson liked being paired with Anthony Kim in the 2008 Ryder Cup, becoming almost a big brother as they made a formidable team. Pavin passed over Kim as a Captain’s Pick even though he was #9 on the Ryder Cup points list. Hand surgery earlier in the year forced him to be off the tour for most of the summer and his game has not returned to his normal high standards since his return. Phil will most likely assume the same role with the floppy haired Fowler. His go for broke, pin seeking golf game should fit right in with “Phil The Thrill’s” always exciting and adventurous trek around a golf course.
Captain Pavin has a strong team, but European Captain Colin Montgomerie has an extremely well balanced and talented team. 2010 U. S. Open winner, Graeme McDowell, 2010 PGA Championship winner, Martin Kaymer, as well as, experienced players in Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Luke Donald make up the bulk of Monty’s team. Throw in 21 year old, super golf phenom Rory McIlroy playing in his first Ryder Cup and plus the fact that the Cup will be contested on European soil gives the advantage to the Europeans.
Given that the American team is loaded with youth and inexperience, as well as, a wounded Tiger and a somewhat less than normal Phil, both not playing all that well right now, will make it very difficult for Captain Pavin to bring the Ryder Cup back with them to the U. S.