United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III made his first three captain’s picks on Monday, adding J.B. Holmes, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar to the team that hopes to end Europe’s winning streak.
Each of the three has prior Ryder Cup experience, with Holmes making the team for the second time. His only previous appearance was in 2008 at Valhalla — the last time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup.
Kuchar will make his fourth consecutive Ryder Cup appearance, and Fowler is playing for the third time — but his first on American soil.
Love said he and vice-captains Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Tom Lehman were in contact Sunday as the final round of the BMW Championship concluded. Love also consulted the American players who had made the team on points.
“It was a very, very tough decision,” Love said, “but we kept coming back to these three.”
Love now has one more pick to make following the TOUR Championship. He plans to make the announcement Sunday night, Sept. 25, after completion of the FedExCup Playoff Finale.
One of those players still under consideration is Bubba Watson, who’s ranked seventh in the world and is the highest-ranked American player in Ryder Cup points who did not automatically qualify. Watson will be among the 30 players competing at East Lake.
Watson and Furyk are the only Americans ranked inside the top 30 in the world who are not already on the playing roster. Watson has played in three Ryder Cups; Furyk in the last nine. Both also have experience in The Presidents Cup.
If Love is looking for new blood, he could choose from several players. Ryan Moore has three top-10s in his last five starts, including a win at the John Deere Classic. Daniel Berger has two top-10s in his last four starts, including a T-10 on Sunday at the BMW Championship. Justin Thomas enters the TOUR Championship ranked 12th in FedExCup points.
There are 12 Americans heading to East Lake who are not on the Ryder Cup team: Watson, Thomas, Moore, Berger, Kevin Chappell, Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland, Kevin Na, William McGirt, Sean O’Hair, Roberto Castro and Jason Dufner.
Love said “the biggest thing I’ve told several players is it’s not a scoring contest at THE TOUR Championship for who gets the Ryder Cup pick.” He added that the decision will be made “based on what fits best for our team.”
The 41st Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota, outside Minneapolis. Europe has won the last three Ryder Cups and six of the last seven.
The eight USA players who automatically qualified on points are Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson.
Watson currently is ranked ninth on that list. Holmes is 10th, Fowler 11th and Kuchar 12th.
A quick look at each of the three captain’s picks:
J.B. HOLMES — The long-hitting Holmes went 2-0-1 in his only previous Ryder Cup appearance in 2008. Comes off a tie for fourth on Sunday at the BMW Championship. His last PGA TOUR win was the 2015 Shell Houston Open.
Love on Holmes: “He’s so steady. He’s easy to pair. Got a lot of experience. He’s consistent.”
MATT KUCHAR — Making his fourth Ryder Cup appearance, with a career record of 4-5-2. Has 10 top-10 finishes on the PGA TOUR, the most of any player without a win this season. Claimed the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics.
Love on Kuchar: “Great attitude for match play. A great partner. Like J.B., he’s consistent, easy to pair.”
RICKIE FOWLER — Making his third Ryder Cup appearance, with a career record of 0-3-5. Has eight top-10 finishes on TOUR this season, including a playoff loss at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Was knocked out of the FedExCup Playoffs after finishing 59th in the BMW Championship.
Love on Fowler: “We found no weaknesses in his game. He’s such a great teammate. He’s really confident on the big stage … brings a lot of intangibles.”