Let the bellyaching begin. The second-guessing and Monday morning quarterbacking, too.
With two weeks left until the Ryder Cup, United States captain Davis Love III has named Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and J.B. Holmes as the first three of his four wild-card picks. Chances are, you're already shaking your head and tsk-tsking over one of these selections. Or even all three.
Well, here's the thing about captain's picks: There's inherently something undesirable about all of them. If they were slam-dunk, no-doubt-about-it, ideal-situation options, they'd likely already be one of the eight automatic qualifiers who made the team two weeks ago. The talent pool might be deep for the American side, but it's not so deep that players outside that top eight are without fault.
Which leads to another thing about captain's picks: There are no right or wrong answers -- not today, at least.
Judging these selections in the hours after they're announced is akin to the annual sporting ritual of grading NFL team drafts before those players are ever in uniform, let alone actually playing in games. It's utterly ridiculous and we all know it, but we still can't help ourselves.
And so, in the immediate aftermath of Monday's announcement, Love was already being scrutinized for three logical, if not inside-the-box, picks -- none of which should have come as much of a surprise.
Some will insist that instead of Fowler, that pick should have gone to another young star with some moxie, like Daniel Berger or Justin Thomas. Fair enough, but that would not only lose the experience of a two-time player to a potential rookie, but it would also snub a guy with a critically better overall résumé.
Others will contend that Kuchar should have been replaced by Ryan Moore, who's in better current form. There's logic in that, too, though the team would lose one of its most malleable partners and a guy who just claimed a bronze medal playing for his country at the Olympics a month ago.
Even others will believe the Holmes pick should have gone to Bubba Watson, if Love wanted to assure himself of one of these big hitters. While including a two-time Masters champion, it would also mean including a guy who often toes the line between melancholy and irascibility.
All of these ideas lead to one more thing about captain's picks: There's never been a perfect determination for why one player makes for a better pick than another.
Is it current form? That's a cute sentiment, but the fact is that on the game's highest level, form is still fleeting. Rory McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship, then finished T-42 at the BMW Championship six days later; Dustin Johnson was eighth at the DBC, well off the pace, then won the BMW. And these are two of the world's best players. Form is even more volatile for players further away from the top of the world ranking.
Is it past Ryder Cup experience? If so, Love shouldn't even have considered anyone on previous teams, which have lost each of the past three competitions and six of the past seven -- except, of course, Holmes, whose lone prior appearance came for the winning 2008 squad.
Is it analytics? Poring over recent statistics helps to explain which players can assist the team in need areas such as driving accuracy or midrange putting. Then again, poring over statistics is exactly the kind of thing that Europeans laugh about as they're enjoying a few pints after another victory.
Is it team camaraderie? Well, this intangible has certainly worked wonders for the European side, though picking players simply based on potential partnerships seems to be overthinking the situation -- especially when the entire outcome is always in doubt going into Sunday's singles session.
The one thing we can all (possibly) agree on is that these captain's picks shouldn't go to those players who "deserve" it the most; they should go to those who can best help the team win.
We won't know until the early evening of Oct. 2 whether Fowler, Kuchar and Holmes were the best selections for the team. That can be determined only by their personal records -- and that of the team. If they succeed and the team wins, they were the right picks. If they falter and the team loses, again, they will have proved to be the wrong ones.
Speaking of which: Love will make one last wild-card pick just after the Tour Championship final round on Sept. 25. It will presumably go to the hot hand, whoever plays well during the season finale. It will also presumably be Monday morning quarterbacked, with observers shaking their heads and tsk-tsking afterward.
None of that matters. The conjecture beforehand is just that, while the real winners and losers won't be determined until the Ryder Cup itself has been decided.