Forecasting the 2016 Ryder Cup: April 19th
We’re only five months out from the 2016 Ryder Cup, and the two teams are starting to take shape for captains Davis Love III and Darren Clarke. Before we take a look at where each team stands, note that Love will be making four additional captains picks after his qualifiers, while Clarke will be selecting three Europeans to take to Hazeltine in addition to his nine qualified players.
Also, whenever a player’s name is bolded, you can go to his match play record page to get full details on all the matches he has played across all competitions.
Previous forecasting posts: February 9th
|Team USA||Ryder Cup Singles Record||Ryder Cup Team Record||Current Points|
On The Bubble
- Guys on the immediate bubble: Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Kevin Na.
- Other big names and their current place: Jimmy Walker (16th), Ryan Moore (17th), Billy Horschel (19th), Daniel Berger (21st), Justin Thomas (26th), Webb Simpson (34th), Jim Furyk (36th), Hunter Mahan (42nd), Tony Finau (46th), Steve Stricker (49th), Keegan Bradley (56th) and Tiger Woods (92nd).
- From the last time that I did this, we’ve seen the following changes: Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes are in, with Kevin Kisner and Jason Dufner getting knocked out.
- I don’t really have a rooting interest one way or the other in this event, but if you’re a fan of American golf, it’s really hard to not be impressed with the eight guys leading off for Love. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this is the best group that they’ve assembled since they won at Brookline in 1999 where all twelve of their players were ranked inside the top 28 in the world.
- In case you’re wondering where Bryson DeChambeau is on the list, he isn’t currently eligible because he isn’t a PGA Tour member. More information can be found here.
- If I had to pair the eight guys right now, I’d probably do something like: Spieth/Mickelson, Johnson/Johnson, Fowler/Watson and Snedeker/Holmes.
- Further to the second point about how good this team is, it also has an incredible balance to it. Adding in Bubba and Holmes from the previous forecasting gives the Americans three of the top five players on the PGA Tour in driving distance to go along with short game wizards Spieth, Zach Johnson and Snedeker. As of this writing, all eight players rank inside the top 40 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained total, with five of them (Mickelson, Fowler, Watson, D. Johnson and Spieth) falling inside the top 10.
My Captain’s Picks
The first two picks I think are pretty simple. Reed and Koepka deserve to be on this team and with how close they are to qualifying automatically, you shouldn’t be surprised if one or both of them end up making it on points. The next two picks are a little more difficult though because I don’t think there’s a whole lot separating the rest of the pack, and realistically, it’s a nice problem to have if you’re Davis Love. Tom Watson wasn’t as fortunate when he had to make his selections back in 2014.
If I was in charge of this team, I would try and infuse some new blood into the group because of two reasons. First, it’s not like the players who have been there recently have gotten the job done anyway. Secondly, you have to start getting younger players involved at some point, right? It’s possible that this is the last Ryder Cup team for Mickelson, and guys like Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson are getting up there in age too. So, if we’re going on the idea that we’re trying to get new players involved, that wipes out guys like Kuchar, Walker, Simpson and Mahan.
I’ve been beating this drum for a little while, and I’m going to continue to do it: Kevin Na would be a great pick for this team because not only is he a really good player (currently 19th in strokes gained), but he’s also the kind of player that would be absolutely awful to play against in match play. He’s super aggressive, has a bulldog mentality and even though he’s gotten better with his pace of play, he’s still slower than most players out there. No one wants to see that across from them in match play.
My last pick, if I had to make them today, is DeChambeau. Yes, we’re dealing with an incredibly small sample size when it comes to pro golf, but there’s no doubt that he can really play as evidenced by his performance at Harbour Town, and it’s exactly the kind of bold move that could invigorate this team. As I’ve said countless times, match play is super volatile at the pro level because everyone is so good, but there’s clearly some scar tissue when it comes to this event and outside of Thomas and Horschel, none of the names up top intrigue me in the way DeChambeau does. I’m all in, and as of now, he would round out my roster.
|Team Europe||Ryder Cup Singles Record||Ryder Cup Team Record|
|Rafa Cabrera Bello||N/A||N/A|
On The Bubble
- Guys on the immediate bubble: Victor Dubuisson, Chris Wood, Thorbjorn Olesen, Thomas Pieters and Lee Westwood.
- Other big names and their current place: Shane Lowry (18th on Euro list, 21st on World), Martin Kaymer (20th on Euro list, 24th on World), Jamie Donaldson (25th on Euro list, 15th on World), Graeme McDowell (44th on Euro list, 16th on World), Luke Donald (43rd on Euro list, 23rd on World) and Ian Poulter (35th on Euro list, 30th on World).
- Changes since the last post: Olesen, Wood and Pieters are out, replaced by Cabrera-Bello, Garcia and Kjeldsen.
- Garcia jumping into automatic qualification is so, so important for Clarke. The last thing that he wants to do is have to use one of his three captain’s picks on a veteran player like Garcia, who is still far too good of a player to not qualify for the team outright. Considering how close Clarke is with some of the other older players who are looking to qualify (Westwood, McDowell, etc), I’m sure he’d love nothing more than to have them jump into an automatic spot as well. I’m also sure that he’d love to have an extra pick just like Love.
- The addition of Garcia helps, but there’s still a stunning lack of Ryder Cup experience on this roster, which is something that we haven’t seen from the Europeans in quite some time. This event has always been cyclical, and while I’m more bullish on the European side than a lot of people seem to be right now, it’s pretty easy to look at the American side and see a much stronger group of players, at least on paper. The future, led by McIlroy, Willett and Fitzpatrick, looks pretty bright but it could be a little rough getting there.
- Ultimately, what I think ends up happening here is that seven of the nine players listed above are locks for this roster. The only two that I think are in danger of falling out are Kjeldsen and Cabrera-Bello, and if that happens, I find it hard to believe with what’s behind them that either of them end up making it as one of Clarke’s picks.
- It’s still stupid that Paul Casey is not going to be eligible.
My Captain’s Picks
We’ve gone this far without mentioning Ian Poulter, but unless he commits a felony or gets hit by a bus somewhere, there’s no chance that he isn’t on this roster and it’s the right call. Even with him going winless back in 2014, his record speaks for itself and he needs to be on this team. Westwood’s good performance at the Masters is something that was sorely needed too, and as mentioned above, Clarke must be hoping that it continues over the next couple of months so that he doesn’t have to use a pick on him.
As of right now though, I think he’s the right pick for this team, even if it’s only because the team is so desperately lacking in experience. Keep in mind too that when Clarke captained the Eurasia Cup team a few months ago, he selected both Poulter and Westwood to help his young players along, and I think that needs to be the play again here. My last pick is going to go to Shane Lowry because as much as I like Pieters and Wood, I think Lowry’s overall game, especially around the greens, is much stronger. He’s also got the perfect demeanour for the event, and much like Patrick Reed in 2014, Lowry will not be intimidated in the least by anything that the American players or fans throw at him during the week.
|Team USA||Team Europe|
|Jordan Spieth||Danny Willett|
|Dustin Johnson||Rory McIlroy|
|Bubba Watson||Matthew Fitzpatrick|
|Brandt Snedeker||Andy Sullivan|
|Zach Johnson||Henrik Stenson|
|Rickie Fowler||Justin Rose|
|Phil Mickelson||Rafa Cabrera Bello|
|J.B. Holmes||Sergio Garcia|
|Patrick Reed||Soren Kjeldsen|
|Brooks Koepka||Ian Poulter|
|Kevin Na||Lee Westwood|
|Bryson DeChambeau||Shane Lowry|