Sep
7
2010
Presumably, Only One Captain’s Pick Still a Secret
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Charley Hoffman celebrates holing out from the bunker on No. 13 at TPC Boston in the final round

When the American Ryder Cup players, vice-captains and hopefuls walked off the 18th green at TPC Boston on Monday, they were greeted by reporters with questions about captain Corey Pavin’s wildcard picks. Pavin is set to make his announcement in less than nine hours at the NYSE on Tuesday morning (10:30am ET to be exact), so what’s the use in speculating now? Because it’s fun.

Pavin has (or had) a difficult decision, but unlike European captain Colin Montgomerie, Pavin doesn’t have to worry about leaving out the world’s number-eight ranked player or a guy who has two PGA Tour wins this season (like Paul Casey and Justin Rose).

Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink, who finished T11, T30 and T18, respectively, had supposedly locked up their spots before they even teed off at the Deutsche Bank Championship, according to the chatter around TPC Boston (and not just in the press room). Apparently, at the dinner Pavin hosted with the eight players already qualified, he warned them to be careful what they said to the media leading up to Tuesday’s festivities.

“I think [Pavin] has my number,” said Woods after his round on Monday. “No, I’ll talk to him this afternoon, give him a call.”

Zach Johnson is expected to receive the nod from Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin for a spot on the team

Pavin also had a long list of approximately 14 players he was keeping his eye on. But he also supposedly revealed his short list of five players — Anthony Kim, Sean O’Hair, Lucas Glover, Rickie Fowler and Ryan Palmer — for the fourth and final pick. He allegedly noted that performance at TPC Boston would play a weighty role in the decision.

O’Hair and Kim both played terrible and missed the cut, essentially shooting themselves out of the race. Earlier this year, it seemed unfathomable for AK to be left off the team, but a hand injury required surgery and sidelined him for three months. Since returning, he’s missed four cuts and placed T76 at the WGC-Bridgestone, where there was no cut.

After Fowler shot one-under 70 on Monday, he said that he last heard from Pavin on Sunday night when the two exchanged text messages. Pavin asked Fowler, along with others in the running, for their travel schedules to make sure he could get a hold of them on Monday night.

Fowler pleaded his case, citing his experience and success at two Walker Cups. “I love to win, especially in those team matches, playing for our country — it means a lot to me — and it’d definitely be a great experience to get picked,” he added.

“I don’t think decisions are really going to come down to one round of golf,” said Fowler. “Obviously, playing well the past few weeks definitely helps for your bid to be on the Ryder Cup. But I wasn’t too worried about it, you know, coming into this round. Obviously if I went out and shot 59, it would help, but going out and shooting one-under or even, I don’t think it was going to hurt or help either way.”

Phil Mickelson has lobbied for Fowler. Meanwhile, his good friend Bubba Watson said he didn’t make a case for Rickie — he’s just happy he’s on the team. He’s also glad that he doesn’t have Pavin’s job.

“They’ve never asked me to be captain,” said Watson. “I’d probably throw up — it’d be more nerve-wracking to be a captain because you gotta call the people, ‘Look, I’m sorry, you just didn’t make it.'”

Nick Watney, who finished strong with a 68 on Monday (five-under for the tournament to place T33), also received a text from Pavin on Sunday night asking for his travel schedule and saying he’d speak to him one way or another. Watney replied that he was flying to Chicago on Monday evening, but he’d have his phone on all night.

Watney was also surprised “how close to the vest” Pavin was keeping his decision. He played with assistant captain Davis Love III on Monday and asked him if he knew yet.

“If [Love] knows, I wouldn’t want to play him in poker,” Watney said laughing.

2009 US Open Champion Lucas Glover, who in between retorting “No!” several times to kids asking for his hat, didn’t appear optimistic on his chances for making the team. “I wasn’t nervous or anything, I just didn’t play well,” said Glover. “So if I don’t get [picked], I don’t deserve it.”

Ryan Palmer, a Ryder Cup hopeful, hits a tee shot at TPC Boston

While Fowler seems to be a popular favorite guess, it appears the unassuming Palmer might have a better shot. Of the five on the supposed short list, Palmer has played the best in the past two weeks, placing T11 on Monday and T5 the week before at The Barclays. He’s also won this season, even though it was back in January. Palmer’s 12 missed cuts might cause for concern, but there’s an explanation — he got new clubs and didn’t notice until the RBC Canadian Open that they were a degree and a half flat (minor details!). After he fixed the problem, Palmer finished runner-up at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Charley Hoffman’s marvelous 62 in the final round and five-stroke victory has people wondering if his eleventh hour effort was enough to snag a pick. Hoffman entered the Deutsche Bank Championship 57th in the Ryder Cup points standings, and it’s questionable whether Pavin even had his phone number.

At this point, Pavin has likely already made his calls and there are probably already four very happy guys and half a dozen or so disappointed ones. If you’re Pavin, who would you pick?