In a dramatic, inspiring and unexpected choice, U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, Cory Pavin, used his four Captain’s Picks to select Rickie Fowler to this year’s team along with Tiger Woods, Zack Johnson and Stewart Cink.
Woods, Johnson and Cink weren’t surprises. All stood out with their recent play and performance on previous Ryder Cup teams. If there was any baggage (beyond Tiger’s on-the-run swing change) it was that these solid players didn’t qualify on points. Maybe more like a briefcase than any real baggage. Needing to be in the top eight players in points, Johnson finished 11th, Woods 12th, and Cink 14th. Fowler finished 20th.
What is a 21-year-old player who hasn’t been on the tour for a year doing being selected with the likes of the other three?
It might be because he has an old soul. When you watch him play, there is a swashbuckling fearlessness to his unique swing. Quicker than most, he lashes the ball with a well-timed trust that doesn’t seem to let him down much. He’s amassed $2.3 million with that trust.
What could allow for that at his age? His motocross racing background? Or is that he’s arrived with an essence more highly evolved than most his age? He had a T5 in his third tournament, a 2nd in his sixth, T8 and 6th in his eleventh and twelfth and 2nd in Jack Nicklaus’ prestigious Memorial Tournament. Oh, and lest we forget, a T5 in his 18th tournament. Even though he’s been a little flat since then, he’s made five of seven cuts and is currently ranked 25th in the FedEx Cup points and 33nd in the World Rankings. Not a bad year for a rookie.
So in the cauldron of the Ryder Cup on one of the world of golf’s biggest stages, where you’re not just playing for yourself, but for your teammates and (gulp) country, can he rise to the occasion? Can he step over his youthfulness and be settled in his innate brilliance as he has for most of his first year? Could it possibly be just another golf tournament to him? The fact that he’s 7-1 in the last two Walker Cups, the amateur version of the Ryder Cup, and 4-0 in his last one suggests that it might be.
It should be a very absorbing broadcast.
And keep an eye on Rory McIlroy on the European team. He’s younger than Rickie and also playing to rave reviews.