States of things
Davis Love III's selection poser and Paul Lawrie's plus points... Rob Lee looks at the golfing headlines.
Last Updated: 30/08/12 10:21am
Nick Watney's win at the Barclays has put a real spanner in the works ahead of Davis Love III's Ryder Cup wildcards announcement on Tuesday.
I think the American skipper had intended to pick Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler and Steve Stricker - and that may still be what he does.
But Watney has to be right in contention now, as must Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson, who finished second and third respectively in last week's tournament.
And if Mahan has a poor time at the Deutsche Bank Championship and Stricker and Furyk fail to shine, I can see wholesale changes, even though Love III must already have an idea of whom he wishes to pair together in Medinah.
Mahan is a fine player; Furyk is a wily old campaigner; Stricker is Mr Consistent and looks pencilled in to play alongside Tiger Woods; and Fowler showed plenty of heart to win half a point against Edoardo Molinari in 2010, so we know the stage doesn't frighten him.
But current form will be taken into account, too, while Love III must also factor in whose game will match up well to the rigours of Medinah; with the Chicago course set to suit the longer hitters that is a tick in the box for Watney and Johnson, and a black mark against the less powerful but more decorated Stricker and Furyk.
Watney, Snedeker and Johnson will know that if they flourish at the Deutsche Bank, they will be hard to ignore. Mahan, Fowler, Furyk and Stricker will realise that, too, and with all seven in action in Massachusetts, it promises to be a cracking tournament.
What this dogfight for the final four places does show, though, is that the American team will be incredibly strong. Europe will really have their work cut out to retain the hallowed trophy.
Paul Lawrie will be part of the European squad to tackle the Americans in late September and he will head to Medinah in terrific form; his win at the Johnnie Walker Championship last weekend was his second European Tour triumph of the year.
The Scot has only appeared in the Ryder Cup once before, in the 1999 event in Brookline, and with team Europe losing that, plus all the infamous histrionics from the American crowd, he will be desperate to help Jose Maria Olazabal's team engineer victory this time around.
It won't be easy for all the European players to cope with a such a vociferous and patriotic home support, but Paul will be in the right frame of mind to deal with that as he is playing as well as he ever has.
There will plenty of guys putting their hands up and asking Olazabal if they can be paired with Lawrie because he is such a complete player and not someone who you can label as just a foursomes player or just a fourballs player. The Aberdeen man could be a crucial cog in Team Europe.
Martin Kaymer, who squeaked into the party as the final automatic qualifier, had made some noises that he might pull out due to his lack of form, but those rumours seem to have quietened now and I am pleased.
He is a world-class player and while he may not be at the peak of his powers at the moment, over the qualification period he has proved to be amongst the 10 best players in Europe.
Players of his calibre cannot go and hide somewhere because they have the ability to start firing in an instance. I would not back against Martin - a former world number one, let's not forget - doing just that in the Ryder Cup cauldron.
ROB'S SKY BET TIP
My money is on Lee Westwood at the Deutsche Bank. He did well in the scrambling statistics last week and even though he went under the radar at the Barclays and we saw very little of him on television, he played very well to secure a tie for fifth place.