Dear Tom Watson,
As the last US Captain to win on European soil 21 years ago (seriously it’s been that long), you probably know you’re going up against a pretty strong European team (one that’s won 2 of 3 majors and is leading the 4th one). By now, everyone and anyone has given you suggestions about what you should and should not do with regard to your 3 wild card/captain’s picks.
You’re going to need players who can handle playing in Scotland under what will probably be less than splendid conditions. Think players who can play in wind, and possibly rain. Players who can play under pressure, and have put together a solid body of work this year.
Looking at the qualification list, I want to help you make those three picks in hopes that you’re able to send a team over that will be competitive and maybe, just maybe, pull off the upset.
The first wildcard should go to Phil Mickelson. He’s currently ranked 10th in the qualification standings and is coming onto form. He had a solid Open Championship. He won the Scottish Open and the Open Championship last year so playing in the wind won’t be an issue for him.
The second wildcard should go to Keegan Bradley. He’s currently ranked 11th in the standings, and you only need see how well Bradley and Mickelson played together in both the fourballs and foursomes in both the 2012 Ryder Cup and the 2013 Presidents Cup. They’re the closest…no only thing that compares to the pairs that Europe has rolled out.
Those two picks are chalk…but your third pick is where it gets tricky. I have four names, but rather than give you their names, we’re going to do the blind test.
Player 1: Rank 15th in the standings. Has won one major since start of 2012. One previous Ryder Cup with a .50 points percentage (the second highest).
Player 2: Rank 69th in the standings. Played on last two Ryder Cup teams with a 3-4-1 record. Was the anchor (12th player) on one of the losing teams in the last two Ryder Cups. Career points percentage of .44. Has been on one Ryder Cup winning team.
Player 3: Rank 66th in the standings. Played on last two US winning teams. Career points percentage of .42.
Player 4: Rank 32nd in the standings. Played on two of last three Ryder Cup standings. Was the anchor on one of the losing teams in the last two Ryder Cups. Has won a Match play tournament. Career points percentage of .56 (highest among the four).
If you picked player 1, you picked Webb Simpson.
If you picked player 2, you picked Tiger Woods.
If you picked player 3, you picked Justin Leonard
If you picked player 4, you piecked Hunter Mahan.
If you honestly picked player 2…please walk away from the computer and go seek help immediately.
Of the four I would pick Webb Simpson. He went 2-2 in Medinah.
If I could bounce one player in the top 9, I’d bounce Bubba Watson. His record in playing outside of the US is abysmal, and if the wind kicks up he’s a liability. I think he peaked at Augusta.
So who do you pick?