Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Paul McGinley and Tom Watson, the respective Ryder Cup captains, made their picks on Tuesday, and there is little to question in any of the selections.
McGinley added Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher to his European team. Meanwhile, Watson tabbed Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Keegan Bradley on the U.S. side.
There was little doubt that Poulter and Bradley would be among the picks. Poulter has a remarkable 12-3 record in four previous Ryder Cup appearances. Bradley went 3-1 in his first Ryder Cup in 2012, including 3-0 when paired with Phil Mickelson.
Westwood is 18-13-6 in his eight appearances. He has played eight consecutive Ryder Cups, which didn't hurt his quest to make the European team.
Gallacher will be a rookie at Gleneagles - when the Scotland course hosts the Ryder Cup from Sept. 26-28 - but there is plenty of family history in the event. His uncle, Bernard, played in eight Ryder Cups. The younger Gallacher will have the added pressure of playing in his native country. He has had a win and a runner-up finish among his eight top-10s this season.
Francesco Molinari and Luke Donald were in the running, but didn't do enough to earn a spot on the European team. Molinari has just four top-10 finishes this season, and hasn't won since 2012. His 0-4-2 record his two previous Ryder Cups didn't help his cause.
Donald, like Molinari, hasn't won since 2012 and has only four top-10s this season. The Englishman was runner-up at the RBC Heritage, but missed the cut in two of the four majors and finished 40th or worse in the two that he did make the cuts.
The only stat on Donald's side was his 10-4-1 record in his four previous Ryder Cups.
While McGinley's picks were fairly obvious, Watson's picks were not clear-cut. There were players that won recently, Chris Kirk and Hunter Mahan, others that narrowly missed out on the nine automatic qualifying spots, and some that took themselves out of the running.
There were players like Ben Crane, Kevin Streelman and Brian Harman who have won since June. None of those three were in the top 20 on the points list. Not that that mattered to Watson.
Kirk won this past weekend, but it was too little too late. He would have been a rookie at the Ryder Cup, and the same goes for Ryan Moore and Brendon Todd. Moore, Todd and Kirk were Nos. 11, 12 and 14, when points locked up after the PGA Championship.
Moore had a phenomenal match play record in his amateur days, but even a win at the CIMB Classic last fall wasn't enough to get him on the squad. Todd had five top-10 finishes in a six-event span earlier this summer, but it was all for naught.
The biggest issue in Watson's eyes might have been that all three would have been Ryder Cup rookies. He pointed out that both teams have three rookies as it stands, and that is a good balance in his eyes.
Watson's biggest issue was the four veterans not at his disposal - Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner. Injuries have sidelined Woods and Stricker until December at the earliest, and Dufner is out indefinitely with two bulging discs. Johnson is on a leave of absence from the tour.
If any of them had been available, there seems little doubt that Watson would have selected that player.
There will be plenty of debate over which team will be considered the favorite to win the Ryder Cup. Looking purely at the Ryder Cup records, the Europeans have a distinct advantage.
The U.S. team has a combined record of 43-52-18, with only four team members having better-than-.500 records. Mickelson is the lone team member with double- figure wins.
Counter that with the Europeans' 69-42-17 record. Henrik Stenson is the lone European player with a losing record. Westwood, Poulter and Sergio Garcia all have double-figure win totals in the Ryder Cup.
Weird things tend to happen when the pressure is as great as it is at the Ryder Cup, so anything is possible. The Europeans could win in a rout or the Americans can scrape out their first win on European soil since 1993.
Now that we have the teams, the anticipation will build to a fever pitch. Let's just hope the event isn't a letdown.
- The LPGA lost two of its Korean stars to retirement last weekend. Hee-Won Han and Jeong Jang both played their final event in Portland, Oregon. Both players are stepping aside to focus on raising and growing their respective families. Han was a six-time winner on the LPGA, while Jang had just two victories, including one at the 2005 Women's British Open. They join Grace Park and Mi Hyun Kim among the ranks of retired Korean players. At any point from 2001-11, seeing those four among the leaders was commonplace.
- Following in the footsteps of an older sibling or a high-profile parent is never easy. The pressure of being Arnold Palmer's grandson, and trying to make it as a professional golfer, has been a daunting task for Sam Saunders. After three full seasons on the Web.com Tour, Saunders has three events left in the Web.com finals series to earn around $5,000. If he does it, he will be a PGA Tour rookie in the 2014-15 season.