The United States Ryder Cup team is nearly set, but before Davis Love III makes his fourth and final captain’s pick, he wants to see how the guys on his radar can do on the actual venue. A number of the U.S. team members headed up to Hazeltine National over the weekend to play a practice round and there were a few interesting hangers on.
Watson was the most conspicuous name missing when Love made his first three picks last Monday, when the captain went with Fowler, Matt Kuchar, and J.B. Holmes. Fueling the intrigue was that Love seemed evasive when asked about the two-time Masters champion in his ensuing press conference.
But Love told Golf Digest’s Tim Rosaforte he has invited Watson to practice, and he sought to squash discussion that Watson won’t be part of the team because he’s a difficult teammate.
“He’s the opposite of that. Everybody played with Bubba would say that. I’ve been on teams with Bubba,” Love told Rosaforte. “Everybody just loves Bubba. He’s quirky but so is Phil.”
Shouldn't Bubba Watson be a slam dunk for the USA Ryder Cup team? Ranked 7th in the World and missed the top 8 by 1 slot, 9th??
— Jim McLean Golf (@McLeanGolf) September 17, 2016
Interestingly, Love said Watson was the player he was most proud of on the Ryder Cup team he captained in 2012, as well as the 2015 Presidents Cup team in which he served as vice captain.
“Everybody tells you heartfelt stories about Bubba Watson,” Love said. “I literally told him the other day, ‘We love you Bubba.’ It’s about pairings…The reason why he wasn’t in first three didn’t have anything to do with personality, it has to do with golf pairings. We picked guys to fit, now we need another pick another guy to fit.”
Watson will not be the only player invited on the trip who is still looking to be tabbed by Love. Also making the trip to Minnesota will be Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas and Jim Furyk, who is already an assitant captain, but could still be added as a player.
Love said after making his first three captain’s picks that Tour Championship results won’t necessarily impact the decision-making process, but the writing on the wall would suggest that Love has a very short list of possible players.