Sunday 19 November 2017

'Late Ryder pick ramps up pressure on US 12th man'

Paul McGinley with the Ryder Cup
Paul McGinley with the Ryder Cup
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley reckons that USA skipper Davis Love III is taking a big risk in waiting until this Sunday to name his fourth wildcard pick for the match at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minnesota.

Love has 11 of his team preparing mentally and physically for the 41st staging of the Cup, but the last man for USA duty will not know his fate until the Tour Championship in Atlanta is finished.

McGinley (right) is slightly bemused by that decision, which has arisen as part of the American's Ryder Cup Task Force initiative aimed at ending Europe's dominance of the match.

Rickie Fowler, JB Holmes and Matt Kuchar, all with Ryder Cup experience, got the nod as captain's picks by Love two weeks ago.

Now the guessing game begins in earnest as Ryder Cup fever revs up on both sides of the Atlantic.

"I'm surprised they've left it this late," said McGinley. "I understand them making the picks a couple of weeks ago. I thought that was good timing. I'd also be a little bit uncomfortable that they've identified the last man in the door.

"Psychologically that's maybe not a good place to be, coming in as the last player, so they've put a lot of pressure on this last position.

"Whoever is identified as that 12th player will have an extra scrutiny now because he's kind of the '11-plus-one' and it will be interesting to see where he (Love) goes.

"Is he going to go with the experience of Bubba, who's seventh in the world?

"Is he going to go with Jim Furyk? Or is he going to take a chance? And the indications are that he's going to take a chance on one of the younger players - (Daniel) Berger maybe, or Justin Thomas.

"I think a lot is going to hinge on this week, and this is right at the 11th hour."

The winning captain at Gleneagles, speaking to Sky Sports News yesterday, also noted the challenge of a late call-up for the player.

"Whoever is chosen is going to go from Atlanta, straight to Hazeltine, and there's a lot of things to be organised, not just for them, but for their family and their friends, and all the people around them," he warned.

"It's a lot of unwarranted extra mental energy that's going to have to be used by that 12th player, so I'm finding it hard to see why they're justifying going at the 11th hour like they are.

"But again, all will be revealed. I'm looking forward to seeing who that player is, and then how he performs in the Ryder Cup."

Dubliner McGinley is bullish about the prospects of Europe retaining the trophy, saying: "We've got a young vibrant team mixed with some brilliant experience."

Irish Independent

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