Ryder Cup USA teammates, potential final picks practice at Hazeltine
With the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn., just over one week away -- and a yet to be determined final Captain's Pick for the Americans to be named on Sunday -- several players made the trek over to Hazeltine on Monday for a practice round.
Those players were American team members Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker, along with three hopefuls for that final pick in Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson.
So with the Hazeltine invitation extended to Berger, Thomas and Watson, is that a sign that those are the three U.S. Captain Davis Love III is contemplating for that final pick during halftime of Sunday Night Football in six days?
It sure looks that way.
Watson, a two-time Masters champion, was a surprise omission from the first three selections Love made on Sept. 12 (Fowler, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar) for two reasons: 1. He missed an automatic qualifying spot by one position at No. 9; 2. His No. 7 world ranking is higher than any of the Captain's Picks Love has already appointed.
Should Watson get the nod, it would mean the top 12 players in the final standings were all on the American team. Holmes finished at No. 10, Fowler was No. 11 and Kuchar was No. 12.
Watson's record in the three previous Ryder Cup appearances -- 3-8-0 -- certainly leaves something to be desired.
Selecting Berger (No. 16) or Thomas (No. 25) with the final pick would mean moving a little outside the box, but it would also be an opportunity for one of those young players to get a taste of an event they're sure to be participating in for years to come.
Both Berger and Thomas have been mentioned several times throughout the year by Love. Berger may have qualified for the top 8 were it not for an injury. Thomas, meanwhile, impressed Love with a victory at the CIMB Classic to start the 2015-16 season late last year -- an event where he wasn't eligible to collect any Ryder Cup points because it wasn't a major and came before Jan. 1, 2016, when points finally became available at regular PGA Tour events.
Will the pick come from any of those three? We can't say for sure, but it's another reason to pay extra close attention to this week's Tour Championship -- the final event of the PGA Tour's Playoffs for the FedExCup -- where all three players are entered in the 30-man field at East Lake.