NEW YORK – Ending months of speculation, Team USA Captain Corey Pavin completed his 12-man Ryder Cup team on Tuesday by selecting Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler with his four captain’s picks.
Pavin, seated between three of his four assistant captains — Tom Lehman, Davis Love III, Paul Goydos (Jeff Sluman was unable to attend) – and PGA of America President Jim Remy, made the announcement at the New York Stock Exchange, where he will also ring the closing bell Tuesday afternoon.
Pavin’s four captain’s picks join the eight automatic qualifiers who were announced following the 92nd PGA Championship last month at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.: reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar.
With the Captain’s picks, the Ryder Cup team will feature four former SCPGA Junior Tour players; Woods, Fowler, Mickelson and Mahan.
In selecting Woods, Cink and Johnson, Pavin adds proven Ryder Cup experience to his relatively young squad. Woods has competed in five Ryder Cups, Cink four and Johnson one. Fowler, a PGA Tour rookie who has made 16 of 24 cuts, including five top-10 finishes this season, will be making his Ryder Cup debut. He finished 20th in the U.S. Ryder Cup Points Standings.
Mickelson will be making his ninth consecutive Ryder Cup appearance, while Furyk makes his seventh consecutive, and Mahan and Stricker their second straight. Watson, who finished second in the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in August following a three-hole playoff, Johnson, Kuchar and Overton will be making their debuts in the Ryder Cup.
Looking to capture consecutive Ryder Cups for the first time since 1993, Team USA heads to the Twenty Ten Course at The Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales, hoping to continue the success it enjoyed two years ago while upsetting the heavily favored Team Europe at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
Powered by the inspired play of six Ryder Cup rookies — Mahan, Stricker, Boo Weekley, J.B. Holmes, Anthony Kim and Ben Curtis – and the leadership of captain Paul Azinger, the Americans shocked the Europeans 16 ½-11 ½ to snap a three-match losing streak.
Team Europe, led by captain Colin Montgomerie, will again be favored over the Americans when the teams meet in a little more than three weeks. Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jiminez will be joined by reigning PGA Champion Martin Kaymer, reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson and brothers Francesco Molinari and Edoardo Molinari or Italy.
Begun in 1927, the Ryder Cup is among the last great professional sporting events where winning, not prize money, is the ultimate reward. The United States owns a 25-10-2 overall advantage in the biennial competition, but Europe has won five of the last seven Ryder Cups.