• Out of Bounds

Furyk a concern, but wildcards won't decide Cup

ESPN staff
September 5, 2012
It's hard to be confident in Jim Furyk's ability to succeed at Medinah © Getty Images

United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III has made his wildcard selections - now (almost) everything is in the players' hands.

Contrary to the hype that understandably surrounds the final players to be added to the two teams on either side of the Atlantic, the picks themselves rarely decide the ultimate destination of the cup.

In the end, Love went with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson for his team. But they complete a 12-man roster that could lose at the end of this month at Medinah - just as a squad including Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan and Bo Van Pelt would certainly have been good enough to win, had Love instead chosen to go that way instead.

The only pick that might - might - come back to haunt Love is Furyk, a player who should have won twice this year but threw both those tournaments away in the final few holes.

While that shows he is a player in form, it also indicates his swing is not at its most reliable under pressure. And, as he will know as a veteran of the stage, nowhere is the pressure greater than a Ryder Cup.

Love indicated that Furyk was selected for the same reasons as Stricker - for his putting, and the off-course calm he will bring. While Dustin Johnson played his way into contention with strong form in the second half of the season, and Snedeker impressed with his Open Championship performance and great putting, Love suggested that both elder statesmen were always certain of a pick.

"I laid it out early on when I thought we needed, and we stuck with it," Love said at the official announcement of the wildcards. "I need Jim Furyk; I need Steve Stricker. All of the guys on the team will benefit from those guys being in the team room, being in the locker room. Those guys, as I said, can pair with anybody. It gives the team a lot of confidence."

While Furyk may bring a lot to the table in the locker room, there remain questions about what he will contribute on the course. A decent putter he may be (but, again, seemingly susceptible to pressure these days), he is also a straight driver - but he is not very long.

With Medinah set to be approaching 7,800 yards, he is going to be at a major disadvantage if the US do the sensible thing and tailor the course to suit their big hitters (Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods).

Two years ago, Furyk picked up a measly half point from the three matches he played in at Celtic Manor (although he did push Luke Donald to the wire in the singles). He was unbeaten in the Presidents Cup last year, however - although, having said that, it is worth stressing that was the Presidents Cup, an exhibition match in comparison to the battle royale of the Ryder Cup.

This is nit-picking, however. With Rickie Fowler out of form, Nick Watney only showing flashes of inspiration and Hunter Mahan a shadow of the player who won twice at the start of the year, you cannot blame Love for picking a player, and a man, he feels comfortable with.

In the end, he now has a 12-man line-up he is confident in. As a captain, that is all you can ask at this stage.

"I think we're extremely deep this time, deeper than we've ever been," Love added. "There was a lot of guys that played a lot of really good golf.

"You can analyse the numbers up and down and back and forth. It was tough to leave really anybody off.

"[But] I'll tell you this, I love my team."

Love still has the pairings to sort out - but the first part of his job is now done. Now, it is time for the players to step up to the plate.

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