US Captain Davis Love III has named three of his captain's picks and Ralph Ellis thinks he's just made outsiders Europe even better value to back...
"Love’s picks of Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and JB Holmes suggest their team will have the same tired old formula that has cost them defeat too many times, and will make backing Europe at 3.211/5 more and more appealing."
We've all played in sports teams alongside people we don't particularly like. You get on with it - and all the more so if he or she happens to be the best player.
For the time the match is on you bury your personal feelings, make out like he's is your long lost brother or sister, and do your best to help him or her secure a victory for everybody. The clue is in the label 'team sport', the team comes first.
It's a concept, however, that always seems to have been lost on America's Ryder Cup sides - and if the picks announced yesterday by their captain Davis Love III are anything to judge by, it continues to be an issue.
The US are going into the contest at Hazeltine on September 30 as 1.618/13 favourites to win the match and regain Samuel Ryder's iconic old trophy. Yet Love's picks of Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and JB Holmes suggest their team will have the same tired old formula that has cost them defeat too many times, and will make backing Europe at 3.211/5 more and more appealing.
Love had talked about the experience among his eight automatic choices as a good opportunity to bring in young players who weren't tainted by previous defeats. Instead he's gone back to old faces purely to try to keep things happy in the team room.
By common agreement it seems not too many American golfers like Bubba Watson. Who knows why not? He was voted the man on the PGA tour the others would least be likely to help in a bar fight. Maybe it's because he's unorthodox, maybe because he's a bit aloof, maybe they are jealous because he's successful. He's just not "one of the boys".
None of that should matter because even though his recent form is patchy he is still the seventh best player in the world, the third highest American, and what's more his big hitting style is perfect for Hazeltine. Yet he's not going to be there because, in Love's words, "these three guys are the ones we all really wanted".
Fowler especially is a popular figure. A jovial character, all the others fancy having him as their partner, even though his current form is even worse than Watson's. Yet he's the only player in the history of the Ryder Cup to figure in eight matches without winning one of them - I'd take a miserable Bubba Watson winning holes as my partner, any day, ahead of a comedian telling funny stories but missing putts.
Of course in theory Watson could still make the team. Love has one more captain's pick to announce, and a stunning performance in the Tour Championship in Atlanta would force his hand. But you sense that if he hasn't found room for Watson in his team this week, he'll find any excuse not to call him in at the last minute.
There's even been a rumour - given credence by Kuchar - that Tiger Woods could get the nod and become a playing vice-captain (You can back him at 4.03/1 in the market for who will Make the American Team). That really would prove that Love is picking the team for who he likes rather than who might earn points.
People talk about the team spirit among the Europeans having been such a factor in successive wins but the reality is that spirit comes from winning, and not the other way round. The golden rule of selecting a team remains to choose the best players, but it's one that Love has ignored.