Filling out the final four roster spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team is the closest thing golf has to a draft. That's how captain Davis Love III explained his choices, calling long-hitting Dustin Johnson "the best available athlete," describing Brandt Snedeker as the hottest putter since the British Open and saying the experience of Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker made them "need" picks.
Combine those four with the eight who qualified on points -- Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, former St. John's player Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson -- and Love said his biggest problem will be deciding which four to sit out during each round of four-ball and foursomes the first two days of the event from Sept. 28-30 at Medinah just outside Chicago.
"I think we have got a great team," Love said. "I think we are extremely deep this time, I think deeper than we have ever been."
The United States will need all the firepower it can get against the defending champion European team that has won six of the past eight Ryder Cups. Although Love's lineup includes 10 of the top 20 players in the world rankings, no one has a winning Ryder Cup record, compared with eight Europeans with winning marks. The U.S. team also has four Ryder Cup rookies (Dufner, Bradley, Simpson and Snedeker) to one (Nicolas Colsaerts) for Europe.
Love said he wanted to add experience and would choose players who are hot, and he followed that formula. The most notable omission was Hunter Mahan, who won twice this year, including a victory over the hottest European, Rory McIlroy, in the Accenture Match Play Championship. But Mahan hasn't played as well recently as the four captain's picks.
No one has been hotter than Johnson and Snedeker, who each finished in the top six of the first two FedEx Cup events, the Barclays at Bethpage Black and the Deutsche Bank event in Massachusetts. In fact, the combination of Johnson's booming drives and Snedeker's putting, Love said, "would be a good team together.
"I laid it out early on what I thought we needed, and we stuck with it. I need Jim Furyk; I need Steve Stricker. Those guys can pair with anybody. Gives the team a lot of confidence. And you can't argue with the golf that Brandt and Dustin have been playing. So it really did kind of lay right out there for us."
Love indicated that Stricker and Woods likely will team up, as they previously have done, and Medinah will be tailored to favor the long-hitting ability of the U.S. team. "You don't want four-inch, chip-out rough," Love said. "We want lots of birdies. Our team is driving it unbelievable."