CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III chose Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar on Monday for the upcoming showdown with Europe at Hazeltine.
Love said there was strong debate and discussion with vice captains Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk late into the afternoon on Sunday before a consensus was finally reached. The choices lean heavily on Ryder Cup experience as the Americans go for their first win since 2008.
“We went back and forth on a lot of great players and it was a tough decision,” Love said.
Holmes finished 10th in the Ryder Cup standings and called Love last week to tell him how important it was for him to be on the team. Holmes finished tied for fourth at the BMW Championship on Sunday and is one of the few active Americans to have never lost in the event. He played at Valhalla in 2008, when he went 2-0-1.
Fowler started the year with a victory in Abu Dhabi and was rolling in the Phoenix Open before losing a two-shot lead with two holes to play and then faltering in a playoff. He also lost the 54-hole lead at Wells Fargo and at Barclays, which prevented him from qualifying for the team on points. Fowler was part of the Ryder Cup Task Force aimed at turning around the Americans’ fortunes in the event, but he is 0-3-5 in two previous Ryder Cups, both on European soil.
Kuchar was thought of as a favorite for one of the picks given his ability to play with any partner in a team event where chemistry is crucial. He has just one victory in the last two years at the Fiji International, but made a big impression by winning bronze at the Rio Olympics. He is 4-5-2 in his Ryder Cup career and has played on the three previous American teams, all of which lost to Europe.
“It stinks for me to be sitting on the outside needing a pick,” Kuchar said. “I thought I had a nice year, but not nice enough to qualify on points. Team USA is certainly very strong. To have the picks we’ve had is fantastic.”
The three captain’s choices join Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson, who qualified in the final standings for the Americans. The U.S. has only one rookie on its roster to date while the Europeans will bring six newcomers to Minnesota.
“We know what to expect. We’ve been there,” Love said. “We’re going to learn from our mistakes in the past and build on it. We know what happened in the past, but we’re looking to the future now.”
Love will announce his final captain’s pick on Sept. 25, after the Tour Championship. The Ryder Cup begins on Sept. 30.
Left off the initial round of captain’s picks was Bubba Watson, currently ranked No. 7 in the world. He won at Riviera, but hasn’t won a singles match in three Ryder Cups. Furyk was also passed over. He did not make it to the BMW Championship, but he lost four months of the season to wrist surgery and only started playing in May.
Love said the final pick will not necessarily come down to who plays the best at the Tour Championship. Some players who are not in that field remain up for consideration.
“We’re a sports team and we have to draft the right player for the right position,” Love said. “There’s going to be a lot of stats and a lot of things to look at. But making our pairings, fitting into the team, doing all the little things you’re asked to do, these three guys fill incredible roles and a lot of different roles.”