Three headline Ryder Cup snubs list

September, 8, 2010

It can be argued every baseball season when the managers for the All-Star Game announce who will fill out the rosters for their respective leagues that the most interesting part of the event is seeing who made the teams and who -- to use a cliché -- was "snubbed."

That isn't really the case with the Ryder Cup team and the captain's picks made by Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie. Baseball fans are tied to their favorite franchises, so fervor arises when someone on their team doesn't get the nod. This is probably the leading cause of sports-talk-radio-call-in-guy rants following such incidents.

Trivia question

Tiger Woods was made a captain's choice despite being third on the all-time list for most Ryder Cup matches lost with 13. Who are the only two players with more? (Answer below.)

Golf fans don't have that rock-solid tie to a group of players (unless you work for Nike, or Adidas or the like), but there have to be fans of Nick Watney, Lucas Glover and Anthony Kim who have been left disappointed by Pavin's announcement Tuesday morning. Although Pavin went with some pretty safe picks in Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson, 21-year-old rookie Rickie Fowler is the first PGA Tour rookie ever to be picked for the team.

Another interesting item on Fowler: He's the first golfer to play in the Walker Cup one year and the Ryder Cup the next. The two events were held in the same year until 2001, when the terrorist attacks on the United States postponed the Ryder Cup for a year.

All that being said, let's look at a few of the players who have the most legitimate gripes about not being picked for the team that will be heading to Wales for the Oct. 1-3 matches.

Anthony Kim
Higher world ranking (16th) than: Cink, Johnson, Fowler
More FedEx Cup points than: Cink

Still recovering from wrist surgery? Sure. But Kim was 2-1-1 in four matches in 2008, and his emotional, aggressive style of play fits the Ryder Cup to a T. Kim won in Houston earlier this year and had a Tiger-like run in the Southeast before bowing out because of injury: second at Honda, T-22 at Doral, win at Houston, third at the Masters, T-7 at Quail Hollow.

However, Kim hasn't made a cut since coming back from injury. (His T-76 at Bridgestone came in an event that didn't have a cut.) It's unfortunate for golf fans that he won't be at his peak, but this made the decision to leave him off the team pretty easy for Pavin.

Nick Watney
Higher world ranking (31st) than: Cink, Fowler
More FedEx Cup points than: Woods, Cink

So, not only did Nick Watney's front-nine implosion on Sunday of the PGA Championship cost him his first major, the opportunity to launch himself into the world's top 10 and the appointment as the next American golf star, it also likely cost him a spot on the Ryder Cup team. Even without that win, though, Watney had a legitimate shot to be a captain's choice.

His six top-10 finishes in 2010 are more than any of the four captain's choices. His scoring average is better than Woods', Fowler's and Johnson's. He's tied for 10th in birdie average on the PGA Tour this year with nearly four per round. Still, there's a distinct difference between three major champions who have proved they can get it done on the biggest stage and a promising kid with a 7-1 Walker Cup record -- and what would be an unknown commodity in Watney.

Charley Hoffman
Higher world ranking (51st) than: None of the four
More FedEx Cup points than: All of the four

The "hot hand" theory is often bandied about by commentators and analysts when talking about these things, and no one has a hotter hand among the captain's pick contenders than the golfer who most resembles Spicoli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." But as a blazing-hot month of June doesn't always portend a spot on the AL or NL All-Star team in baseball, a back-nine 29 to salt away a FedEx Cup win doesn't mean you should make the Ryder Cup team.

A couple of weeks ago here at Numbers Game, we looked at whether previous captains had bought into picking golfers who had played well recently. The numbers did not indicate that this was the case. Since 1997, the 14 captain's picks have made 65 PGA Tour starts from after the Open Championship until the Ryder Cup began in the year they were selected. Only once -- Cink in 2004 -- did a captain's pick win one of those tournaments.

Hoffman made it known on the NBC telecast following his scalding-hot 62 on Labor Day that he would love to be a part of the team in Wales. Alas, no blond locks will be under a U.S. cap this time around.

If Woods wants to play at East Lake in a couple of weeks, it's going to take a big weekend at the BMW. Woods, who has won this tournament five times, likely needs a top-five finish or better to ascend into the top 30 and qualify for the Tour Championship. Woods' five wins at the BMW are surpassed by only Bridgestone, Doral, Bay Hill and the Buick Invitational for most in an event in his career.

The PGA Tour's projection for the 30th position heading into next weekend is roughly 1,500 points. The current top 13 players are already mathematically locked into the event. This means that 57 players are fighting for 17 spots. Any player who is currently ranked in the top 16 has the potential to move into first with a win this weekend. However, the only player for which it is certain that a win guarantees an ascension to first is Hoffman (currently second).

Trivia answer

Question: Tiger Woods was made a captain's choice despite being third on the all-time list for most Ryder Cup matches lost with 13. Who are the only two players with more?

Answer: Raymond Floyd with 16 and Phil Mickelson with 14.

If a player is in the top five after this weekend's event, he'll control his own destiny heading to the Tour Championship: win in Georgia, and he'll be the FedEx Cup playoffs champion.

Justin Ray has been a studio researcher for ESPN since June 2008 and is the lead researcher for "The Scott Van Pelt Show." He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where he studied convergence media. Send comments and suggestions to


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