Monty's European Ryder Cup team leaves the door open for the underdog U.S. in Wales
Six months ago, I thought this fall’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales would be a European rout. That’s hardly the case now.
For starters, Sergio Garcia, one of Europe’s best spark plugs during Ryder Cup weekends in the last decade, is AWOL. His partner in Ryder Cup foursomes crime, Lee Westwood, is ailing with an injury and certainly won’t be sharp come October.
Then, there are the three picks selected yesterday by team captain Colin Montgomerie. Padraig Harrington is no doubt one of the most accomplished European players, but I can’t say his 2010 has been all that Ryder Cup-worthy. He has some Top 10 finishes in key events like the PGA Championship and WGC-CA Championship.
But Paul Casey has done far better in 2010. He was a factor at the Open Championship until he faltered on the back nine Sunday, and you could also argue he’s been the best Match Play player on tour in the last two years.
Harrington was also admittedly gassed at Valhalla in 2008 and went 0-3-1. It might be time to let him sit this one out.
Luke Donald’s pick makes even less sense. He had two missed cuts and a best finish of 11th in the majors this year. He’s a shorter hitter, and I don’t think that’s a good thing at brawny Celtic Manor. He’s a player who does well in middle-of-the-road tournaments, not when the best two dozen players are all in the field.
Another snub, Justin Rose was red hot earlier this year, winning twice in three weeks, but he certainly hasn’t played his way onto the team after a lackluster last two months when it counted most. He and Casey are more deserving than Donald, but I might give Harrington the edge over Rose.
I think it’s okay to take a chance on Edoardo Molinari since it’d be an obvious pairing with his brother Francesco. It’s been awhile since Italy had some blood on the team, going back to Constantino Rocca in 1995. Picking him over Rose or Casey gives Europe six rookies on the twelve-man team now, while currently four of the U.S.’s eight automatic picks are rookies (Kuchar, Watson, Johnson, Overton).
The European team will bring some guns like Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, but the US has some firepower too. By all accounts, we can expect Tiger Woods in the lineup, and Matt Kuchar looks like a great nuts ‘n bolts guy to have on the team.
Dustin Johnson could be dominant at Celtic Manor, but he’s also fared famously bad under pressure, and I’ll be eager to see if the Ryder Cup can be a stepping stone into closing out some major tournaments in 2011 and 2012.
Pavin will announce his four picks shortly. I’d like to see Tiger, Anthony Kim, Lucas Glover and Zach Johnson get the nod. We all know I’d like to see Boo Weekley selected and team up with Bubba, but he’s barely ahead of Pavin in the points standings, which can’t be a good thing.
I like the USA’s chances in Wales - especially if Corey Pavin keeps Mr. Snooze, Jim Furyk out of the early morning matches.
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