Published September 04, 2012
NEW YORK – Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III caused a few murmurs at the Nasdaq Market Site on Tuesday when making his picks.
He announced Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker before getting to the fourth and final pick.
"And then last but not least — and if you read between the lines, not in any particular order except that we are doing it by height," he said.
No, it was Steve Stricker, who is listed at an even 6 feet in the PGA Tour media guide, which made him the shortest of the picks. Stricker has never been considered short, except when compared with a Ryder Cup team that is getting taller all the time.
Talk about growing the game.
"We're getting bigger and bigger athletes," Love said.
Love, who is 6-foot-3, was the tallest player when he made his first Ryder Cup team in 1993. There are five players who are at least 6-foot-3 on this team — Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.
The only players on the U.S. team listed under 6 feet are Zach Johnson (a very generous 5-foot-11) and Jason Dufner (5-foot-10).
"I wasn't a good athlete, I was just tall," Love said. "Now we're getting good athletes. Dustin Johnson, you put him in a (New York) Giants uniform, he'd fit right in. You're getting them from other sports, guys that could have played another sport. Lucas Glover could have played baseball if he wanted to. Nicolas Colsaerts is a big strong guy. There's obviously going to be great chippers and putters — short guys — but we're trending toward bigger, more powerful athletes."
Consider one of the ways he described why he took Johnson as a captain's pick.
"You just want the best athletes available in the draft," Love said with a grin.
BUSY STRETCH: Graeme McDowell started the FedEx Cup at No. 27 and now goes to Crooked Stick needing a strong tournament to reach the Tour Championship. This is only his second year as a PGA Tour member during the FedEx Cup era, and he still hasn't quite figured it out.
Not the points — the emotion.
McDowell hasn't won this year, but he was in the final group at the U.S. Open and had a chance on the back nine of the British Open.
"I've just been fatigued the last few weeks," McDowell said. "I haven't switched on since the PGA Championship. It's my second shot at the PGA playoffs, and I probably haven't mentally gotten my head around it. It's a busy few months. I shot a shot at the U.S. Open, I had a hot at the Open, did all right at the PGA. I think I'm tired. The big priority the next few weeks before the Ryder Cup is a lot of rest, making sure I'm fired up come Medinah."
If he had it do over, McDowell might have followed the route of Jason Dufner, who skipped The Barclays. McDowell missed the cut at Bethpage Black, which is the same as not playing. Of course, that's easy to say now.
"It's difficult to not play these things," he said. "They have big purses, and the carrot ($10 million bonus to the winner) is fairly large."
Dufner had that luxury.
He was No. 2 in the FedEx Cup going into the playoffs and only slipped to No. 6 after not playing. The only thing it might cost him is one of the top five seeds, meaning he could capture the FedEx Cup with a win at East Lake no matter what anyone else does.
And if Dufner had not been ranked so high?
"I might have had to think about it," Dufner said.
TAVISTOCK TRAVESTY: What started as a made-for-TV exhibition between clubs in Orlando, Fla., is on verge of getting silly, if it wasn't already there.
Lake Nona against Isleworth made sense because Orlando is home to so many PGA Tour players who belong to one of those clubs. Then, the two-day matches expanded to include a course in the Bahamas and London. And now, it's growing even more with two "teams" that other parts of the country — Oak Tree just north of Oklahoma City, and something called Primland, which is based in Virginia.
The bigger problem is that the Tavistock Cup will be played next year the week of the Shell Houston Open, a tournament that dates to 1946 with a title sponsor that has been important to the PGA Tour for a long time (it also sponsors the World Golf Hall of Fame). How many players in the Tavistock Cup, where the rich get richer, will play Houston (even though Houston in 2013 is two weeks before the Masters)?
At least the tour kept the field size at 24 players. Instead of four teams of six players, the six teams will have only four players.
But here's where it could get goofy. Charles Howell III lives at Isleworth, yet there's a chance he could play for Oak Tree (Oklahoma State alumni are honorary members). Bo Van Pelt lives in Oklahoma, yet he might end up playing for Isleworth (where he has a membership for the winter months).
As for Primland? It's located in Virginia, not far from Charlotte, N.C. Among the players who are mentioned for that illustrious team are Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Jay Haas and Fred Couples, whom every club in America would like to claim.
MAKING THE CUT: Ian Poulter was proud as ever when he walked out of the scoring trailer Saturday after signing for a 71. After speaking briefly about his new Ferrari, he looked back and said what sounded like, "I've made a year's worth of putts." Guys say that all the time.
What he actually said was, "I've made a year's worth of cuts." And indeed he has.
Poulter missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship last year, and that was his last one. That's 23 tournaments since then, and 23 times earning a check.
Even better news?
There is no cut at the BMW Championship next week, or the Tour Championship if he qualifies. Depending on his schedule the rest of the year, the next tournament he plays that has a cut will be the Australian Masters, where he is the defending champion.
DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Tiger Woods are the only players to be No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, world ranking and the PGA Tour money list at the same time. ... U.S. Amateur champion Steve Fox, Justin Thomas and Chris Williams have been selected to play on the U.S. team in the 2012 World Amateur Team Championship, which will be held Oct. 4-7 in Turkey. ... Three players who started outside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup have advanced to the third playoff event at the BMW Championship — David Hearn (58), Graham DeLaet (60) and Bob Estes (62). ... No one in the BMW Championship has competed in a professional event at Crooked Stick. Davis Love III and Billy Mayfair were at the 1991 PGA Championship, but neither advanced out of the first round of the playoffs. ... The Tiger Woods Foundation will run the Deutsche Bank Championship next year.
No changes are likely to be noticed, and Eric Baldwin will remain as the tournament director. IMG had been running the event since its inception in 2003, with all proceeds going to Woods' foundation.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The winner of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick will earn $1.44 million. That's $240,000 more than the entire purse when Crooked Stick hosted the 1991 PGA Championship.
FINAL WORD: "It just feels empty right now." — Hunter Mahan after being bypassed as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup.