The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

United States Ryder Cup Preview

In what has been a fascinating PGA season, the year’s ultimate finale, The Ryder Cup, awaits at Le Golf National in Paris, France. Eight players from Team USA and Team Europe have already earned their automatic selections through a season long points system. Four more players will join each side before the opening tee shot on September 25. Jim Furyk, Team USA’s captain, will make three selections on September 3rd and one on September 9th.

Thomas Bjorn, Team Europe’s captain, will make all four selections on September 5th.

Now before I dissect the possible decisions Jim Furyk will make, let’s take a look at what he already has. With seven major champions Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, and Rickie Fowler (lone major-less player), Jim Furyk has a team stacked with power, youth, and surprising finesse. The length off the tee is clearly evident, but most of these players also possess a special skill set on and around the greens.

So what really does he need to add? Jim Furyk has just a few days to decide which three players will join him in France. With Bryson DeChambeau’s 4 stroke win last weekend at The Northern Trust,  he rounds out a pretty clear list of three “almost certainties.” Unless he decides to leave one of these three players for his last pick, it’s obvious Furyk will take Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Bryson DeChambeau next week. With Tiger and Phil’s undeniable experience and current playing ability, it would be shocking to see them left out.

Furyk has several different options for his last pick, which he’ll make on Sept 9. Last week’s runner-up Tony Finau, defending rookie of the year Xander Schauffele, and journeymen Matt Kuchar and Kevin Kisner are all possible selections.

If Furyk is looking to stack power, he certainly can with Tony Finau, who finished top ten in 3 majors and 9 events this season. If he wants a spread of youth talent, he can go with Schauffele. But I think he’s going to pick one of the journeymen. Kevin Kisner has had a fantastic season at times and has paired well with players like Phil and Rickie. Kuchar is a fan favorite and has always performed well at the Ryder Cup. If I had to choose one of the two, I think Kisner will round out the Ryder Cup team as the 12th pick. His straight shot, solid golf style could be a refreshing addition to a team filled with meaty bombers. But I wouldn’t be surprised for captain Furyk to choose any of the aforementioned players, as he has many quality golfers to choose from who can all make a difference this September.

Projected Team USA:

(Already Selected in Bold)

Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Kisner

Projected Team Europe:

Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Rory Mcilroy, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera Bello.

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