My latest Sympatico column looks at the decision by Davis Love to pick Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson, and pass Hunter Mahan by:
Hunter Mahan’s timing is lousy.
Two years ago a chunked chip made him the goat of the Ryder Cup, though the U.S. loss to a strong European squad was hardly entirely his fault. It was a team effort. This year he got off to a red-hot start, winning twice in the first three months. He’ll have one of the best seasons on the PGA Tour this year – but it wasn’t enough to get him amongst the four picks Davis Love III made to fill the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Love, not surprisingly, went with a mix of hot golfers and veterans to fill the ranks of his squad. That meant choosing Jim Furyk, even though he’s has a lousy Ryder Cup record and hasn’t been able to seal the deal when it comes to final rounds this year, and leaning towards the steady Steve Stricker. But it also saw Love look past Mahan, instead drafting Brandt Snedeker, who has played well recently, and big-hitting Dustin Johnson, who is peaking at the right time. Mahan is a victim of some mediocre play at a time when others are playing well.
That doesn’t make it any easier for Mahan, who wanted the chance to redeem himself after his errant chip on the 17th hole in a match against Graeme McDowell sealed the European victory in Wales.
“To not be a part of it, it feels empty right now — it definitely feels empty,” Mahan said today at the BMW Championship. “[It] ended up being a two‑week trial, kind of a sprint to the finish of who was going to play the best because I think [Love] stated he wanted Stricker and Furyk, so there was really only two spots left. And Brandt and Dustin just outplayed me at the end of the day. I just didn’t play good enough. And that’s okay. It’s okay to get beat by somebody. That’s part of golf… but like I say, it just feels empty right now.”
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I think both teams should have a system that decides 12 players per side. The Captains could then also add a 13th (pinch hitter) to be used if required.
But of course only the two PGAs can make any rules, and $$$$ rules.
In any other sport Ernie would be on European side, and VJ would be on the US team. Maybe the winning team should play an Australian/South African team? Oh, I guess that’s the Presidents Cup.