Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
LESSONS FROM THE BARCLAYS
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Hello, sports fans. Interesting week, including a new star for women's golf, 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko. But let's start with Nick Watney outlasting Sergio Garcia at the Barclays. It seems as if Davis Love's four picks got a whole lot easier, with top finishes by Watney, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson. What if anything did you learn from the first tournament of the FedEx Cup playoffs?
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: I would love to see D.J. playing well going into the Ryder Cup. He has the kind of big game that could lift the U.S. side.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Johnson also has a putting stroke that could lose a tight, meaningful singles match. I still don't have faith in him on the greens when things get tough. Bamberger: I learned, again, that Watney looks like an altar boy, until he gets in contention. Then he's all killer.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Easier?! Watney wasn't even being considered and Sneds was a long shot. Now they're strong candidates along with at least five other guys. Love is gonna have a hard time sleeping tonight.
Shipnuck: Stricker is a lock. And Mahan remains a candidate but hurt himself with a missed cut.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Fred. He's off the list now.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Agree that Love's job just got a whole lot tougher. Watney had done next to nothing this year. (I know because he is on my fantasy team.) What about Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan? How do you leave those two off?
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Stricker's a lock. Can't leave the best putter off the team. Plus, who would Tiger partner with?
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: What I learned this week is that nothing is really settled. I don't think anyone locked up a Ryder Cup spot, although D.J. and Watney certainly put themselves in better position. I, too, believe Stricker is a certain pick, but the fact that Tiger apparently can't pair with anyone else (which I don't believe) is a red flag. Also, Mickelson has some serious issues going on with his game. That's a potential uh-oh.
Herre: Everyone assumes Stricker to be a pick, and he usually plays well this time of year, but he was so-so at the Barclays. His spot could come down to how well he plays this week.
Dusek: The emergence of Nick Watney as a hot player muddies an already deep field of potential captain's picks. I think Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan are locks, but Watney now joins Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker as players vying for the final two captain's picks. The next two weeks are going to be huge for those players.
Herre: I think Snedeker has a great shot. The guy can putt, and you can't have too many good putters in match play. Plus, I like his grit. Would seem to be a good partner.
Reiterman: I love his aggressive style, too. Sees the shot, hits it. Perfect for match play.
Van Sickle: You win the Ryder Cup with putting. Love should load up with the best putters he can find. That means Stricker and Snedeker for starters. Go from there.
Bamberger: The best way to improve your putting is by hitting it close to the hole. The best way to do that is with one of the shorter clubs. The shorter the better. The best way to approach with a short club is to drive it long. Dustin.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What did you take away from Nick Watney's win at the Barclays?
WATNEY AND THE U.S. SQUAD
Morfit: What do we think of Watney as a potential Ryder Cupper? Anyone who can win on a golf course that hard, in front of fans that rowdy, exactly one month before the matches...
Shipnuck: Next week is big for Watney. If he can come strong again and establish himself as the hottest player this minute, that will make it tough for Love not to take him. But if he blows up, then Bethpage looks more like a surprising week in what had been a down year.
Godich: As I said, Watney hadn't done much before this week, but I'd also be a tad concerned about the shaky putting in the middle of the round on Sunday. Those three three-putts have to be a concern.
Shipnuck: The greens were so funky this week that I don't think the three-putts are a big deal. On the contrary, Watney worked on his stroke this week with local legend Darrell Kestner and believes he's found some magic.
Dusek: This entire discussion is only happening because of the changes Paul Azinger implemented before Valhalla. Because he pushed back the date of the captain's picks, Love now has a better chance to see who the hottest players are immediately before the Ryder Cup. That's great, but it also opens up second guessing as guys we previously assumed would be on could be playing themselves off the team.
Herre: Azinger's changes to the selection process were game-changing. Getting four picks, and making them later, gives the U.S. more, better options.
Godich: Remember the days of getting only one wild-card pick if the PGA champion didn't qualify on points? Can you imagine? Funny that it took that long to make the change. Why have a team that was locked in six weeks before the event, especially in golf.
Van Sickle: Some PGA officials questioned Azinger's request to wait so long. They were concerned about getting the team picture poster printed in time. Seriously. Zinger's changes didn't all come easily, and their importance cannot be overstated.
Morfit: Do you think Olazabal would prefer four picks instead of two? One thing it does for sure is put more of the onus on the captain to make sound decisions.