Not sure that I’ve ever witnessed such a building prelude to an upcoming Ryder Cup event. Questions about whether or not Tiger Woods would be on the team basically surfaced no sooner than he missed that first cut of the season back in May at Quail Hollow, and reached a fevered pitch last month when a Golf Channel reporter (Jim Gray) essentially threatened 2010 Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin in a BEHIND-THE-SCENES DUSTUP on the matter. Gray accused Pavin of lying, reporting that Pavin confided to him that Woods would be on the team. Pavin addressed the media afterwards, stating that he said no such thing, and that it would be a huge disservice to the rest of the guys who were in the process of trying to play their way onto the team. Jim Gray approached Corey Pavin afterward and a shouting match ensued, with Gray pointing a finger in Pavin’s face and telling him, “You’re going down!”
Aside from the Tiger Woods dilemma that Pavin had to address seemingly every day of his life, his primary task was selecting four players who he felt had earned the right to represent his team in the upcoming event. Today that process finally ended, as Corey Pavin announced his four captain’s picks for next month’s Ryder Cup in Wales.
2009 British Open Champion Stewart Cink learned that he would be making his fifth appearance on a US Ryder Cup team next month. Cink has a 4-7-4 career record in the Ryder Cup, and brings a ton of experience with him next month to Celtic Manor.
Zach Johnson will be teeing it up in his second Ryder Cup appearance. Zach was on the team back in 2006, played in four matches, with a 1-2-1 record. Johnson won the Colonial back in May, and finished one shot back of a playoff at the PGA Championship earlier last month. Johnson has found some spring in his step inside the ropes as of late, and it was enough to win Pavin’s approval.
His sixth Ryder Cup appearance marks the first time that he’s ever found himself having to compete for a captain’s selection – naturally we’re talking about Tiger Woods. But he’s in. Pavin announced on Tuesday that he was impressed with Tiger’s desire to play on the team, as well as his commitment to get his game in shape over the past few months. Tiger wasn’t a part of the successful 2008 US Ryder Cup team captained by Paul Azinger, as he was out due to injury. Woods’ career record in the event is 10-13-2.
Corey’s final pick, he admits, wasn’t easy. He called it a “gut feeling.” That final selection was given to an upcoming star on the PGA Tour, a player who is embarking on what will most likely be several more future Ryder Cup appearances – tour rookie Rickie Fowler. Although this is Fowler’s first experience representing his country as a professional, it’s not his first rodeo as a competitive golfer. Last year Fowler went 4-0 in the Walker Cup at Merion, and has a 7-1 career record in two appearances in the Walker Cup overall.
So here’s the official 2010 US Ryder Cup team, followed by career Ryder Cup performances:
Tiger Woods, 10-13-2
Bubba Watson, Ryder Cup Rookie
Steve Stricker, 0-2-1
Jeff Overton, Ryder Cup Rookie
Phil Mickelson, 10-14-6
Hunter Mahan, 2-0-3
Matt Kuchar, Ryder Cup Rookie
Zach Johnson, 1-2-1
Dustin Johnson, Ryder Cup Rookie
Jim Furyk, 8-13-3
Rickie Fowler, Ryder Cup Rookie
Stewart Cink, 4-7-4