NEW YORK – U.S. captain Tom Watson went with experience and a gut feeling Tuesday night when he filled out his Ryder Cup team with Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson.
Not so valuable was recent success. Watson left out Chris Kirk, who finished higher in the final Ryder Cup standings than Simpson, and who won the Deutsche Bank Championship a day earlier by going head-to-head with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland the final 36 holes.
“That was a snapshot,” Watson said of his decision not to take Kirk.
Even though Bradley has not won a tournament in two years and missed out by three spots qualifying on his own, he has raw power suited for this event and won all three matches in a partnership with Phil Mickelson two years ago at Medinah in the Chicago area.
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Mahan is the only pick who has been on a winning team, though he is associated more with the wrenching emotion losing brings. Mahan was in the decisive match four years ago in Wales when Graeme McDowell made all the right shots in another European victory.
Mahan was left off the 2012 team, even though he narrowly missed qualifying.
Whomever he chose, Watson’s message was clear. The Ryder Cup, to be played Sept. 26 to Sept. 28 at Gleneagles in Scotland, is all about redemption.
The Americans were poised to win at Medinah two years ago when they took a 10-6 lead into the final day, only for Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer to deliver key putts and big comebacks that allowed Europe to retain the cup.
Europe has won seven of the last nine times, and it will be favored at Gleneagles.
Bradley said last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship there wasn’t a moment that he was not thinking about the Ryder Cup. He feared being left off the team when he finished his round Monday.
“I made no secret how badly I want to go back and win the Ryder Cup,” he said.
Bradley and Simpson are among seven players who were on the U.S. team that was on the losing end of the “Miracle at Medinah.” The others are Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson and Mickelson.
The U.S. captain will be 65 when he leads his team, the oldest captain in history. He last was at the helm in 1993 at The Belfry, which was the last time the Americans won the Ryder Cup in Europe.
• Europe captain Paul McGinley’s three picks were Stephen Gallacher, Lee Westwood and Poulter. Luke Donald, a former top-ranked player who has lifted the trophy with Europe on each of his four Ryder Cup appearances, was left off the team.
“That was a very, very difficult conversation — my relationship with Luke is very close,” said McGinley, who was Donald’s playing partner for the Englishman’s first Ryder Cup match. “He was very, very disappointed, and rightly so. … His record in the Ryder Cup stands with anybody in the game.”