Love left with tough choices
Captain of Ryder Cup to make calls
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NORTON — Steve Stricker’s gotten two Ryder Cup calls in his day.
They’ve gone both ways.
“I got the call,” he said. “But not the right one.”
He got the one he was looking for in 2008 when Paul Azinger tapped him. It was the first time he had gotten the honor.
After finishing tied for 13th in the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday, he waited by his phone again. United States captain Davis Love III will announce his four wild-card picks Tuesday morning at the NASDAQ headquarters in Times Square.
With a win and seven Top-10 finishes this year, Stricker is 13th on the PGA money list. Stricker has been making his case the past weeks, as have Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Nick Watney, and Rickie Fowler.
Three of them will be left on the outside looking in.
Stricker said he’s talked to Love, and things sound promising, but the nerves never go away.
“I’m calm,” said the 45-year-old Stricker said. “Hopefully, I have a good feeling I’m going to get that call. I’ve talked to Davis enough. I’ve talked to enough other players that are on the team, and it sounds good for me.”
Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, and Phil Mickelson already qualified by being in the top eight on the points list last month.
Mickelson said he has a decent idea which way Love will go, though he didn’t want to reveal the details. Nor did he gave Love his opinions on the team makeup.
“I don’t think he’s really needed my advice, I really don’t,” said Mickelson, who finished tied for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship at 14-under 270. “He’s been on so many teams and he’s been able to take elements from captains that he likes and implement those and take elements that he hasn’t liked and leave those aside. I think he’s going to be one of our best captains.”
Dustin Johnson shot 1 under in the closing round to finish even with Mickelson, this coming after finishing third at The Barclays the previous week, and was confident in the impression he left during the last day of Love’s deliberations.
“I really want to play on the team,” he said. “I really think I can help the team. It’s something that I really enjoy doing, so hopefully Captain Love will pick me.”
Johnson, Stricker, Snedeker are most likely set. The last spot likely was to be a choice between Furyk and Mahan.
The pressure loomed over all of them all weekend.
“Shoot, I mean, you want to make the team,” Mahan said. “It’s plain and simple. It’s not like you can just forget about it. It’s not like it’s not there and not going to impact you.’’
Snedeker said he turned off his phone.
“Just got tired of hearing about it,” he said. “I did a good job of staying in this tournament and not thinking about it. I was obviously really nervous about it. I was obviously really nervous today on the golf course. Today was a big day. If I played bad today, it might sway [Love] one way or the other. So I just tried to play as well as I could.”
He was 4 under for the day with six birdies, finishing sixth, a shot behind Mickelson and Johnson. Still, he said if he’s left off the team, it’s his own fault after missing the cut at the PGA Championship last month.
“As disappointing as it would be,” Snedeker said, “at the end of the day, it lies on you. I had two years to qualify or the PGA [Championship]. I played bad at the PGA. Anybody that’s got a problem with that needs to re-evaluate their goals the last two years. It’s a tough goal to be upset, but that’s the way it works. I’ve been on the outside quite a few years, so I kind of know what to expect, and if I’m lucky enough to get on, I’ll be excited.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.