WHILE Jose Maria Olazabal had a relatively straightforward task in naming his two Ryder Cup wild cards, his opposite number Davis Love III faced an altogether more challenging conundrum.
Olazabal last week completed the European team for the match at Medinah, near Chicago, at the end of the month but surprised no one by including Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Love yesterday added the final four names to his team by selecting Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker.
They were the anticipated quartet but the calibre of players Love had to leave out – Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney – illustrated just how tough the selection process will have been.
It also highlighted the strength of this year’s American team which will look to wrest back the Ryder Cup that they lost to Europe at Celtic Manor two years ago.
The four players join automatic qualifiers Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and rookies Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson.
In giving reasons for his selections, Love cited Dustin Johnson’s ‘athleticism’, Furyk’s ‘experience’, Snedeker’s ‘putting’ and the fact that he can ‘trust’ Stricker.
Love said: “We need hot putters and there really hasn’t been a hotter putter on tour since the Open (than Snedeker).
“He brings a lot on and off the course and to the team room. He can pair with anyone, he’s a great asset.
“(Johnson is) the best athlete on the team and he’s perfect for Medinah. I said I was going to try to plug some holes we had, and I think he does that.”
On veterans Furyk and Stricker, making their eighth and third appearances respectively, he added: “We also needed experience, Jim is one of the most consistent players on the tour and one of the most respected.
“I’ve been in the team room with him five times, this will be his eighth team, and he went 5-0 in his last international match (the 2011 President’s Cup).
“Stricker has been the best player in my mind on tour the last five or six years.
“He’s another guy that pairs well with anybody and another great putter, and he’s somebody I really trust on and off the course – he’s been a great asset to me already getting prepared for this day.”
Love concluded: “A lot of guys played a lot of really good golf; it was tough to leave anybody off. We could have gone very deep this year down the points list.
“There’s four great players that all bring a lot to the team, but it was definitely a tough call.
“We’re looking to match guys up, we’re looking for pairings, we’re looking to plug some holes, we’re looking to add some experience, add some putters. These guys fill those roles perfectly.”
The Ryder Cup begins on September 28.