Love mulls over Ryder Cup options
Excited by the eight automatic qualifiers on his Ryder Cup team, US captain Davis Love III faces a nervous wait over the next three weeks as he monitors the progress of his likely wildcard picks.
Love will announce four captain's selections on September 4 to round out his 12-man lineup and, while form will be a significant factor, he says he will lean on experience and the ability to shine under pressure.
Former Cup players Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler came closest to automatic qualification in the US points standings and they are widely viewed as the probable four.
"I'm very nervous of the next three weeks, of having to pick four more guys," Love told a news conference in a Charleston hotel on Monday, 24 hours after Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy romped to victory in the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
"We are very excited about this top eight. If you go right down the list through 20, we have got a great group of guys to pick from. There's a lot of golf to be played. Nobody's out and nobody's really in, yet. This is a big three weeks.
"There's no set formula to make it now. It's whoever's hot, and obviously we'll lean towards experience. I think it's going to come down to a gut decision."
The top eight in the Cup standings after the US PGA Championship were Tiger Woods, Masters champion Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, US Open winner Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson.
Dufner, Bradley and Simpson will make their debuts in the biennial team competition while Watson and Kuchar will each make their second appearances.
The next seven players in the US standings were Mahan, Stricker, Furyk, Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Bo Van Pelt and long-hitting Dustin Johnson.
A veteran of six Ryder Cups as a player, Love confessed to being a little surprised that Mahan and 12-times US PGA Tour winner Stricker had not automatically qualified for the 2012 team.
"Some names obviously jump out at you," the 48-year-old American said. "Hunter has won twice this year, hard to believe he didn't get in there on points with the year he's had.
"But Stricker's moved up (in the standings) and Furyk's moved up. You've got a lot of experience there, and Rickie's played well.
"We want these three weeks. This has generally been Steve's, Phil Mickelson's, Tiger's time of year, when they tend to play very, very well, so I'm not really worried about those guys."
When it comes to selecting his four wildcards, Love hinted strongly that he would be swayed by team chemistry and likely pairings for the foursomes and fourball matches.
"If you look back over the last few Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, Tiger and Steve Stricker have been a really good pairing," he said. "They are both very comfortable with it.
"Bubba and Rickie go well together in everything they do, on and off the golf course. And Hunter is part of that group of guys that are a younger generation. Jim Furyk is great because you can put him with anybody."
"The trick is, who can handle that pressure? That's who we are going to be looking for is four guys that we think can handle that kind of pressure and then try to get our other eight to go play."
Love also announced on Monday that he had appointed Scott Verplank and Jeff Sluman as his assistants for the Ryder Cup, adding them to Fred Couples and Mike Hulbert who were recruited in June.
The USA will take on Ryder Cup holders Europe in the 39th edition of the biennial competition from September 28-30 at Medinah