The Ryder Cup is not just my favorite golf event but it may be my favorite event in all of sports. I have been quite vocal over the years and in past writings of just how inspirational the 99 installment was to my life and career. With the exception of that amazing comeback in Brookline, Mass, Azinger’s victorious team at Valhalla in 2008, and the spectacular 2016 squad that played for the memory of Arnold Palmer…the US has been defeated in almost every cup I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. Yet, like many, I’m still crazy about it.
The way the US accumulates points throughout the regular season has been tweaked and revamped many times, as well as the number of picks the captain picks. This was all to try and flip the script and keep the Americans from getting trounced every 2 years, especially since they field an almost identical team for the President’s Cup in the in-between years and simply dominate that version. A task force was even formed. I repeat: A RYDER CUP TASK FORCE WAS FORMED. The teams of Tiger, Phil, Stricker, and Furyk struggled and all have career losing records. Nobody could quite put their finger on why the US struggled so badly, so the process in which the team was formed was changed quite often. While incredibly hard to accomplish, a tour win used to carry so much more weight than consistent play when it came to Ryder Cup points. This is why you used to see the likes of Vaughn Taylor, Brett Wetterich, and Jay Overton suit up for the red, white, and blue. All fine players no doubt that found their way into the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour, but showed a small fraction of that form by the time the cup came around.
This time around Captain Steve Stricker has 6 picks to go with the 6 players who qualify on points. We are among a new era of talent that has little to no scar tissue from past Ryder Cups gone bad. There is storylines-a-plenty and once again the USA is the favorite on paper. But how many times have we heard that before a 14-8 asskicking? Golf is not played a paper. It’s played with clubs, a ball, and a whole lot of heart. Here are my 6 captains’ picks if I were the man in charge .
6 players already qualified via points (in order): Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantalay
(Point standing in parenthesis)
Tony Finau (7) Last one out, first one in. He was on the team 24 hours ago until Cantalay jumped him with his win at BMW. Tony gets along with everyone, contends every week, and is now rolling the rock better than he ever has.
Xander Schauffele (8) Olympic Gold Medalist and one of the best ball strikers on the planet.
Jordan Spieth (9) Returned to form and that means he’s one of the best players in the world again.
Webb Simpson (13) Can actually be paired with anyone on the team.
Daniel Berger (12) Absolute bulldog and fighter. Great guy to have on your side. Gets a hit putter from time to time to match his aggressive style.
Jason Kokrak (15) One of a handful of players with 2 wins this season. Totally revamped his putting from virtually last on earth to inside the top-20 on tour. Hits it as good as anyone and is top-5 in driving distance.
Close but no cigar
Patrick Reed (11) From a sprained ankle to being hospitalized for double pneumonia. Unless he returns to The Tour Championship and somehow finishes top-5, Captain America will not be on this team.
Kevin Na (19) I love Na and he gets along with everyone on the team. Gritty competitor that will fire up the players in the team room and get the gallery going on the course. But at 19 he’s just too far out to put him on the team and have him play poorly.
Phil Mickelson (20) A little strange to not have the PGA Champion on the team but he should definitely be there as an asst. captain. The players love Uncle Phil and he’s one of the best mentors the US has.
Harris English (10) Great player and a great season, but I can say that for everyone inside the top-20. There’s just some guys I’d rather see on the team. That’s all it is.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional