Ryder Cup USA: Ryan Moore added as Davis Love III's final Captain's Pick
Early last week, Ryan Moore respectfully declined Ryder Cup USA Captain Davis Love III's invitation to Hazeltine National for a practice round with team members and candidates for the fourth and final Captain's Pick.
Moore, running on empty after having played seven tournaments in a row, had some downtime scheduled with family and friends before heading to the Tour Championship. Love understood and said he wouldn't hold it against Moore. He knows the grind.
Sunday evening, after a stunning showdown with no less than Rory McIlroy in the final round of the Tour Championship at East Lake, Love reached out to Moore again. This time, the 33-year-old accepted Love's invitation to Hazeltine -- as the 12th and final team member.
Love was scheduled to make the announcement during halftime of the Sunday Night Football match up between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. In light of the news regarding the passing of Arnold Palmer, the decision was made to not make the announcement then, but rather in a press release that Moore's 11th-hour charge was enough to earn a spot on a USA squad hoping to win its first Ryder Cup since 2008 and just its third since 1999.
Top-8 qualifiers aside -- specifically USA's No. 1 qualifier Dustin Johnson and No. 4 qualifer Patrick Reed -- no American player has been hotter than Moore these last two months.
In his last six starts, Moore picked up a win at the John Deere Classic -- the fifth of his career on the PGA Tour -- as well as a T7 at the FedExCup Playoffs-opening Barclays and a T8 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, culminating with the rousing runner-up finish at East Lake.
Though it didn't result in a "W," Moore's Sunday was a special one -- the kind of special one that forced Love's hand.
Paired with McIlroy in the final round of the Tour Championship, Moore matched the four-time major champion with a closing 6-under 64 -- the low round of the day (Paul Casey also shot 64). That earned both players a spot in a playoff along with Kevin Chappell, who was eliminated on the first hole.
Moore and McIlroy slugged it out for three more holes until McIlroy drained a 14-footer at the par-4 16th for birdie moments after watching Moore drain a clutch 20-footer for par.
Again, it wasn't a victory for Moore, but knocking down must-make 20-footers for pars the week of the Ryder Cup will get anyone's attention.
With the addition of Moore, Ryder Cup USA is getting the "hot-hand" it felt it missed out on in Billy Horschel in 2014.
After an otherwise unsensational regular season, Horschel stormed through the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup. Following a runner-up finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Horschel won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship on his way to winning the FedExCup that year.
He was just the kind of player Ryder Cup USA would have loved to take to Gleneagles, but there was just one problem: The qualifiers and Captain's Picks had already been in place before Horschel's epic run.
That led to something unofficially known as the "Billy Horschel Rule," for the 2016 Ryder Cup, which afforded Love the opportunity to make three Captain's Pick selections on Sept. 12, reserving his final selection for Sept. 25 in the hours after the conclusion of the Tour Championship.
Moore didn't pull off the full "Horschel"; he finished seventh in the final FedExCup standings. But, there's no denying he was the hot hand.
A quarterfinalist this year at the WGC-Dell Match Play, Moore's amateur match-play record is outstanding. Along with winning the 2002 U.S. Amateur Public Links, Moore also captured the NCAA Individual Championship, the U.S. Amateur Public Links, and the U.S. Amateur in 2004.
Moore joins Brooks Koepka as the only two rookies on the 2016 Ryder Cup USA team. The European team, meanwhile, will carry six rookies.
The 2016 Ryder Cup tees off on Friday morning.