Davis Love III talks Ryder Cup team

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Fred Couples was roundly criticized last year when he said Tiger Woods would be on his Presidents Cup team well before Couples had to make any sort of commitment.

While Davis Love III wasn't as definitive as Couples, the U.S. Ryder Cup team captain expects Woods will be on his team at Medinah Country Club in September.

"Fred knew what he was doing. I mean he wasn't going out on a limb,'' Love said Wednesday at Pebble Beach, where he will play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am that begins Thursday. "He's picking the best player we've ever seen play. Healthy, full season, either one of the last couple years, just a few more starts and a little bit healthier, he'd have made those teams. He just didn't have enough starts.

"So I think if (Tiger) has a full, healthy season, we won't be worrying about picking him. But it's nice with four picks, I got a lot of flexibility.''

Woods was returning from injury and had played just two tournaments after a four-month recovery when Couples said Woods would be one of his two captain's picks for the Presidents Cup team that eventually defeated the International squad in Australia.

Although Woods was just 2-3 in the matches, he played well enough to quiet the controversy and also notched the clinching point in the U.S. victory.

Woods was also a captain's pick of Corey Pavin at the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, where he went 3-1 in a 14½ to 13½ defeat to Europe.

Woods will make his 2012 PGA Tour debut at Pebble Beach after finishing tied for third two weeks ago at the Abu Dhabi Championship, a European Tour event that does not offer Ryder Cup points for U.S. players.

The points race began during majors only in 2011 and will continue with money earned at every PGA Tour event through the PGA Championship, with points for the majors doubled. The top eight players in the PGA Tour will automatically make the team, with Love then having four picks following the Deutsche Bank Championship in August.

Kyle Stanley leads the U.S. points list with Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker close behind. But with points based on money, there is room for a lot of change in the coming months, especially due to the majors, the World Golf Championship events and the Players Championship.

"It's hitting me that I'm going to be sitting in a room probably with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk and my assistants trying to figure out pairings before we know it,'' Love said. "So it's starting to hit home a little bit.''

The European team is based on a European Tour money list and a world rankings points list. Captain Jose Maria Olazabal will have two captain's picks with the top 10 through the Johnnie Walker Classic in Augusta automatically making the team.

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for ESPN.com.