Monday 27 February 2017

Automatic qualifiers in with a chance outside the loop

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Phil Mickleson

Age: 40

Eighth Ryder Cup

Record: W 10; L 14; H 6

The Masters champion, and the People's champion. Phil has had to cope with the cancer battle of wife Amy and his mother and did so with poise and grace. His fourth Major, captured at Augusta in April, was an emotional occasion for Phil and the family.

Hunter Mahan

Age: 28

Second Ryder Cup

Record: W 2; L 0; H 3

Made his debut in the American victory at Valhalla, and justified his place by finishing as the USA's top points scorer with 3.5 points. Strong character, as he proved when damaging his driver in the final round of the Phoenix Open and still winning.

Bubba Watson

Age: 31

Ryder Cup debut

Big-hitting left-hander Bubba is one to thrill the galleries with his long drives, but like John Daly, another huge hitter, he has a deft touch with the short game. Only lost PGA Championship in a play-off to Martin Kaymer.

Jim Furyk

Age: 40

Seventh Ryder Cup

Record: W 8; L 13; H 3

Former US Open champion Furyk came good this year after a two-year drought without a win on the PGA Tour, winning two tournaments -- the Transitions Championship and the Verizon Heritage. A tough competitor.

Steve Stricker

Age: 42

Second Ryder Cup

Record: W 0; L 2; H 1

Comeback king. Lost his Tour card in 2005 and could have disappeared, but went to work on his game and has become one of the most consistent players in the world. Was a captain's pick by Paul Azinger for the 2008 Ryder Cup.

Dustin Johnson

Age: 26

Ryder Cup debut

Won the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-am on his favourite Pebble Beach links, but came a cropper there in the last round of the US Open which was won by Graeme McDowell. Also had a nightmare in the US PGA when given a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on the 18th, and as a result lost out on making the play-off with Kaymer and Watson, but was very dignified despite his obvious disappointment.

Jeff Overton

Age: 27

Ryder Cup debut

Turned pro five years ago and hasn't won on Tour yet. In fact, Overton is the first player in the US Ryder Cup history to make the team without having a PGA Tour win under his belt. Consistently high finishes were the key to his gaining a place in the team.

Matt Kuchar

Age: 27

Ryder Cup debut

A man in form. Just what the skipper needs from a Ryder Cup rookie. Kuchar snatched The Barclays in a play-off with Martin Laird last Sunday week for his third PGA Tour victory. His previous wins were in 2002 at the Honda Classic and last year in the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

LIKELY WILD CARDS

1 Tiger Woods

The world No 1 looks sure to be picked by captain Corey Pavin, for reasons outlined below.

2 Anthony Kim

Winner of the Shell Houston Open and brings a youthful exuberance that is a nice counterpoint for the USA to Rory McIlroy's version of 'up and at 'em' for Europe. Loved it in Valhalla when the USA won two years ago.

3 Zach Johnson

Has The Masters win of 2007 on his CV and is a winner on the PGA Tour this season. Cool customer. Has experience of playing 'away' in the Cup at The K Club in '06 where he won 1, lost 2 and halved one.

4 Stewart Cink

He hasn't gone away, you know! The British Open champ of 2009 is a dependable team player. Competed in three Ryder Cups -- 2002, '04, and '06.

IN WITH A CHANCE

Ben Crane

He'd be another rookie, but Crane won the Farmers Insurance Open, tied third in Crowne Plaza Memorial and came fourth in The Players Championship.

OUTSIDE THE LOOP

Boo Weekley

Who can forget the memory of Weekley hopping down the first fairway in his Sunday singles match against Oliver Wilson, golf club between his legs and slapping his backside as if he were riding a galloping horse? But Weekley is 46th in the US standings, just one place ahead of captain Corey Pavin.

Irish Independent

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