Phil Mickelson Says U.S. Ryder Cup Team has a "real game plan"

By Michael Shamburger

With only one tournament left in the FedExCup playoffs, focus for many has started to shift to the Ryder Cup. Even though Phil Mickelson is going to be playing at the Tour Championship at East Lake in two weeks, he also appears to be pretty excited for the Ryder Cup.

On Sunday at the BMW Championship, Mickelson suggested that captain Davis Love III already has his captain’s picks made.

"“We know who is going to be playing with who, when they’re going to be playing, what matches,” Mickelson said."

Mickelson is also excited about a certain vice captain who just announced he plans on returning to the sport.

"“I am so happy to see how well he has thought this through,” Mickelson said of Woods. “I can’t believe our conversations just this week, how detailed he is and the pairings, the possibilities, the players. Not just what matches they’re going to play, but where on the list. He has got us really a good, solid game plan that is easy to buy into and get behind. I’m very impressed.”"

Love will announce three of his picks on Monday morning and save one for after the Tour Championship even though Rory McIlroy thinks it’s strange that the U.S. team waits to make their picks, but it leaves room to pick up a guy who may be putting lights out.

Love has, or had, a fairly tough decision to make. Rickie Fowler, who is on the Ryder Cup Task Force, hasn’t been playing his best golf this season and was just bumped from the Tour Championship by J.B. Holmes. There’s also Love’s boy Furyk, who didn’t play most of the season but did shoot 58 that one time and finished T2 at the U.S. Open. At this moment we’re left to guess as to who makes the team, but at least Love and company are ready to roll.

Here are the automatic qualifiers:

If I had to guess who the captain’s picks would be:

  • Matt Kuchar – There’s no reason to assume he won’t make this team so I’m putting him here now.
  • Bubba Watson – Watson’s second half of the season has been putrid in terms of finishes. Since the Masters, Watson has finished T43, T65, T51, T14, T39, T60, T25, T8, T13, CUT, T20. Hazeltine is long and suits his game off the tee, but he’ll need to be paired with someone who makes up for his 163rd ranking in strokes gained putting.
  • Rickie Fowler – Even though he’s behind Watson in the standings, Fowler has had a better second half of the season and it’s safe to assume that at least one of them makes the team. Fowler also likes the event and has played in it before. He also has more top 10 finishes than Bubba and Holmes.
  • J.B. Holmes – He’s 10th in Ryder Cup points and played well at the BMW Championship this week. He also had top five finishes at the Masters and Open Championship. Although he’s missed three cuts in his last six events, he’s had a solid season with eight top 10 finishes and would bring new blood to the group. He also feels like he’s done enough to make the team and said as much after the BMW Championship. I’m not sure who I’d pair him with though.

I’d love to include Kevin Na because he has more top 10 finishes this season than both Watson and Fowler, but he’s too far down in the points for me to believe he has a legit chance at being picked. I think he’d be a good pick because his pace-of-play would mess with the Europeans and he’s played consistently since the U.S. Open.

As much as I’d like to include Justin Thomas because I believe he’d be a great pick and he’s one of the boys with Spieth and Fowler and he loves the event, he just hasn’t shown me enough this season outside of good performances at the Players in May and the Travelers Championship last month. He did finish T10 at The Barclays, but followed that up with a missed cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

I don’t believe Jim Furyk will be one of the picks this year, although he may be an alternate.

If I had it my way, I’d pick Kuchar, Fowler, Na, and Daniel Berger.

[HT Geoff Shackelford]