US Ryder Cup Captain, Corey Pavin, has selected his Ryder Cup picks. They are:
- Tiger Woods
- Ricky Fowler
- Zach Johnson
- Stewart Cink
The top 8 (Mickelson, Stricker, D. Johnson, Overton, B. Watson, Furyk, Kuchar, Mahan), statistially are very strong. The stats I looked at were total driving, GIR, my personal 'ballstriking' stats, total putting, birdie percentage from the rough, birdie percentage from the fairway, par-3...par-4...and par-5 scoring average, a statistical ranking based off those scoring averages, proximity to the cup from 175-200 yards, proximity to the cup from 50-125 yards and there were a few other stats I looked at.
For the most part, the top 8 are strong because while it may not be pretty for some, they hit a lot of greens. Plus, some guys I feel would work extremely well together in the alternate shot format and some with the low score format. The guys that I would probably try to play the most are Stricker and Kuchar. Particularly Stricker who is pretty much strong in every category and would fit with just about every player in either format. Mickelson is the guy they'll try to use, but I would be tentative using him because he needs the right type of teammate for the formats. I do think that Pavin will probably give Stricker and Mickelson a try in the alternate shot and that's a very good matchup because statistically there's a lot of chemistry there.
I was skeptical about getting Tiger Woods about a month ago because if I were a Ryder Cup captain I would prefer players that I would have a good idea of what I'm getting so I know what their strengths and weaknesses are and what players to put them with. Plus, we don't know how the Wales crowd will treat Tiger.
But while the top 8 was pretty strong statistically, the rest of the Ryder Cup picks were not very promising statistically.
The Tiger situation reminds me of a NFL team taking a flier on a really good player who suffered a major injury and you don't know how well he'll recover from the injury. But if you can get him for cheap, it could work out brilliantly. If not, the damage may not be too bad. Plus, Tiger should have the stamina to play in every match if needed.
I think why I wound up changing my mind was Tiger's attitude by saying he wanted to make the team by finishing in the top 8, but still would love to be on the team if he didn't. His play has also shown some flashes and perhaps coming into the Ryder Cup it starts to click.
Lots of upside and if he doesn't meet expectations, it should be minimized if Pavin plays it carefully enough.
I had some leery feelings on Fowler because a lot of his stats were very good, but his putting needs to improve and he doesn't have that great of a wedge game at this point in his career.
However, I would rather take youth over experience in the Ryder Cup because youth tends to do very well. I think of a young Seve Ballesteros, a young Sergio Garcia and last year when the US took a chance on Michelle Wie in the Solheim Cup. I think Fowler will have the fire to make up for any worries about some of his weaker statistical categories.
Zach Johnson has always made sense once the final 8 was decided because he was playing pretty well down the stretch, had pretty decent overall statistical numbers and the team's weakest part (putting) is something that Johnson does very well. He has also performed well in the Ryder Cup before (which is far more important than having 'experience' but not being a good Ryder Cup record).
This is the pick I'm not high on because Cink's stats this year were not very favorable and he hasn't played that well this year. Plus, he's a career 4-7-2 in the Ryder Cup. I understand that he won the British Opne, that was over 1 year ago. Personally I would've selected somebody like Bo Van Pelt.