You may think having won the Masters twice in the last four years gives you some sway in the golfing world.
Ordinarily, it does. An endorsement here, a life membership there, what’s not not to like?
The problem for Bubba Watson is that the Ryder Cup is far from ordinary and team captains do not see things the way marketing executives or committee men might.
Which is why when American skipper Davis Love III unveiled three of his four wild card picks at Hazeltine in Minnesota yesterday, two-time Masters champ Watson was left to simmer in his green jacket while non-major winners Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and JB Holmes were invited to the party at the end of the month.
There is still a chance Watson could make the team with Love possessing one more pick which he will use following the FedEx Cup play-off finale at the Tour Championship in Atlanta on Sunday night, September 25.
Watson, though, will feel he should be on Team USA already.
When the eight automatic qualifiers were determined on August 29 after The Barclays, the left-hander was ninth on the list. Holmes was 10th, Fowler 11th and Kuchar 12th.
Watson is the highest positioned of the quartet in the world rankings, seventh to Fowler’s ninth, Kuchar’s 17th and Holmes’s 21st And heading into the Tour Championship, only Kuchar is ranked above him in the FedEx standings at 16th, with Watson 24th and Holmes 28th.
Fowler’s particpation, meanwhile, is over after he finished 59th in the BMW Championship at TPC Boston on Sunday, causing him to fall out of the qualifying top 30 for the $10m shootout at East Lake.
Yet the case for Bubba is far from compelling.
While Fowler is yet to register a Ryder Cup victory in two appearances with three defeats and five halved matches, his two and a half points and points percentage of 0.31 is still better than Watson’s from three appearances, which stands 0.27 from the same number of matches.
Ironically, Watson’s most productive Ryder Cup was under Love at Medinah in 2012 when he deliver two points from four matches, yet still the captain is unconvinced.
Yesterday in announcing his three picks he revealed he had informed Watson on his choices during a Sunday night phone call and in the captain’s press conference it was revealing that when he explained his decision-making he dwelled on aspects of character in Fowler, Holmes and Kuchar.
“There were questions as late as last night but we kept coming back to these three,” Love said.
“We were really close two weeks ago to this but it took us until last night to finish it off.
Rickie is so excited to be on the team again. We found no weaknesses in his game. He is such a great team-mate and confident on the big stage. He brings a lot of intangibles to our team. JB is so steady, easy to pair, has a lot of experience, is consistent and been on a winning Ryder Cup team in the past.
“I’ve been on a lot of teams with Matt and he has a great attitude for match play. Like JB he is consistent and easy to pair. These three guys are who we all really wanted.”
Does that rationale for selection tell us as much about Watson as it does the three chosen ones?
After all, Watson has not previously relied on a captain’s pick before, instead making the team automatically. Perhaps, given the choice, the captains of 2010, 12 and 14 would have preferred to do without him. It is not as the Americans have been in the business of winning these past three contests with the Europeans. Maybe Watson is as unsuited to the Ryder Cup as Tiger Woods appeared at times to be.
We can only guess. Watson is nothing if not patriotic and willing to throw his passion and obvious talents behind the Stars and Stripes.
He proudly represented his country at last month’s Olympics in Rio when world leaders and compatriots Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth opted to skip the Games over security and health concerns.
Alas, Kuchar outscored him, picking up bronze to Watson’s eighth but Fowler trailed home in 52nd and has since blown the chance of victory at the Barclays, when a final round 74 dropped him out of the reckoning into a tie for seventh.
That final round at Bethpage has sparked a mini-slump for Fowler but still, it is Watson being asked to further his case for inclusion.
US Ryder Cup selection:
Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, JB Holmes, Matt Kuchar, Final pick (TBC).
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