Every week of the 2010 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
ASSESSING THE PICKS
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Welcome to the special "Decision" edition of PGA Tour Confidential. Corey Pavin's captain's picks are in: Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, and Rickie Fowler. Let's start with the most basic question: Do you like the picks? If so, why? If not, what picks would you have changed?
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: No surprises, and you can't really argue with any of 'em, though there will be a lot of pressure on Fowler to produce. Winless rookie hasn't had a top-10 in months.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Fowler is sort of a surprise but there was no one who really jumped out for that fourth pick. Pavin just cited his 7-1 Ryder Cup record he meant Walker Cup, but the point is strong: Fowler's a proven match play stud.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: These were the four I thought Pavin would pick. Alan points out, correctly, that Fowler has some pressure to produce, but having his close friend and fellow rookie Bubba Watson there should help.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: No big shockers. Tiger finally has a pulse, Cink and Zach are solid vets, and Fowler brings youth and plenty of game. l was on the Fowler bandwagon for a spot since the spring. We'll see if he can channel AK, circa '08.
Shipnuck: Speaking of AK, he's the big loser here. Guy was the hottest player on Tour until his Ryder bid was derailed by a bum thumb. Too bad, because his swagger and firepower will be missed.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Liked the way Fowler said "I'm not Anthony Kim" in the press conference. Fowler is a special player, but a totally different personality.
Walker: That was cool. Fowler is not Anthony Kim, but he's being asked to play the same role on this team.
Shipnuck: On Golf Channel there was a lot of talk about Fowler being the new AK. Pavin could've had the real AK. Unlike Fowler, Kim has actually won a tourney this year and contended at a major. And it's not like Rickie has been red hot. The last three months he missed two cuts and didn't finish better than 13th.
Herre: Hey Alan, don't start with the missing cuts business. AK hasn't made one since he came back.
Walker: These are the guys I wanted him to pick so no complaints here. Woods/Cink/Johnson will give the team a good veteran/rookie mix, while Fowler clearly is ready for the big stage.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Corey went with the flashy choice of Fowler over more seasoned players like O'Hair, Glover and J.B. Holmes. Tiger, Zach and Cink were obvious picks.
Dusek: I'm not going to say Fowler will win five points or dominate in singles the way Kim did against Sergio at Valhalla. The European team is stacked, so no matter who he plays against, he will have his hands full. But I have no doubt he will play well. Very well.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: O'Hair's a little more seasoned than Fowler, so I might have gone with him instead, but no question that Fowler will be an exciting addition to the team. In the press conference, Tiger said that being on the team as a captain's pick won't be different from being on the team as a qualifier. I'm not so sure this year will be a new kind of pressure for Woods. Before he had to prove that he was truly No. 1; now he has to prove that he belongs.
Dusek: Maybe Michael Jordan wasn't going to be available to encourage O'Hair the way he did at Harding Park in the Presidents Cup?
Evans: In my lifetime (35 years) there has only been one horrible captain's choice: Lanny Wadkins taking Curtis Strange in '95 over Lee Janzen, who won three times that year. Fowler is not a controversial pick.
Shipnuck: It's the same old story. If Fowler plays great, it's a smart choice. If he goes 0-3, then Pavin should have taken O'Hair or Holmes. It's on Rickie, not Corey.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Maybe Jim Gray had it right when he quoted Pavin as saying, "Of course Tiger is going to make the team." Still, it's a shock to see the great Tiger Woods being reduced to a captain's pick. As a pro, Fowler has done little to earn this spot, and that tells you where American golf is right now.
WHO, IF ANYONE, WAS SNUBBED?
Walker: No player left off the U.S. side can argue that he was snubbed in the way Paul Casey and Justin Rose were left off Team Europe, but Pavin bypassed a lot of guys to pick Fowler, including Kim (9th in points), Glover (10th in points), O'Hair and Holmes. Can you make the case for any of those guys going to Wales instead of Fowler?
Shipnuck: Not really!
Dusek: I don't think you can.
Herre: Maybe Holmes, who can be an intimidating player, but not the others.
Hanger: I can't make the case for any of these guys really being snubs. Maybe O'Hair because he's more seasoned, but Glover has not made many waves since his Open win, and J.B. Holmes seemed like he was uniquely suited to the home game at Valhalla, but certainly not an essential part of the squad in another venue.
Evans: Fowler is the sexy piece. Pavin had one chance in his life to be boss, and this was it. If he picks one of those obvious choices, he looks like the guy who took the safe road.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: I thought Holmes might've been a better pick than Rickie, but Fowler's Walker Cup record definitely gets your attention. I wonder if Pavin will divide the team into three four-person "pods" like Azinger did two years ago. A Fowler-Bubba-Dustin-Mahan group would probably win some points, and also be fun to watch.
Morfit: Good point, Jeff the young-gun quartet. I like it. Ski buddies Cink and Zach Johnson could anchor another pod.
Walker: Pavin's picks are not controversial. However, he has way too many captain's picks. Four picks is a full third of the team and denies guys opportunities to play their way on the team. Let's go back to two. Four wildcards is like my favorite poker game, Russian Revolution, where all red cards are wild.
Dusek: Funny, I was thinking that it might be a good idea to skip the whole point system and give both captains 12 picks to be revealed at the same time, in one place.
Hanger: I like the four picks because the points list is too often determined by long-ago performance. The four picks make it possible to get the guys who are playing well right now instead of having to take guys who might have earned the majority of their points months ago.
Morfit: Pavin said he went with his gut feeling to pick Fowler, which is what these captain's picks are supposed to be about. If he'd just selected straight off the points list it would invalidate the whole thing. Why have captain's picks if you're not going to use them?
WILL TIGER HURT OR HELP?
Walker: Corey Pavin announced that Tiger is officially on the Ryder Cup team, and somewhere Jim Gray is smiling. After the U.S. win in 2008, the question has to be asked: Is the team better off with Tiger or without him?
Shipnuck: Well, he's a different Tiger now. He needs the Ryder Cup now, he's been humbled, and being a captain's pick changes the dynamic. (Plus he's discovered Stricker as a partner.) I think he'll be great in the team room and a monster between the ropes.
Dusek: If Tiger Woods plays well the team is better off. In an odd way, with all the attention he will draw, less pre-event pressure might be focused on the rookies. Bottom line: If Tiger and Phil step up, the United States contends.
Walker: OK, I'll say it. The 2008 team was better without Tiger. There won't be problems with the other wives or nonsense like that, but the guys looked more relaxed and comfortable together without Tiger. Like my manager at Bank of Boston wrote in my first performance review, "He's just not a team player."
Hanger: No question there was a different dynamic without Tiger there, but I'm not so sure that the wives' opinions of Tiger won't have an impact. Will any wives really be happy to see their hubbys palling around with the great philanderer, and will any of them want to sit next to him at the team dinners? And when they parade all the WAGs out in the opening ceremonies, it'll be at least a little awkward for everyone.
Herre: I'm curious to see if Tiger goes stag or brings a significant other. I've done an informal poll and "goes stag" is the easy winner. Wonder who they'll pair him with when the team makes its grand entrance?
Hanger: No way he brings a lady friend. He'll walk down with one of the single guys.
Herre: I don't see that, Charlie. Too weird.
Walker: I think the UK sportsbooks will have daughter Sam as the favorite for Tiger's dinner escort. Gives him a reason to leave early, too.
Dusek: Condy Rice loves golf and followed a lot of the Presidents Cup ... hmmmm.
Herre: Taking Kultida would make Tiger look like a third-grader.
Hanger: She might turn him down if he asked.
Walker: Now that we know who's on the team, who do you want to see paired up on Team USA? Is Furyk the guy to play with Tiger or someone else? And what singles matches do you most want to see?
Bamberger: With Fowler and McIlroy both playing in their first Ryder Cup, this could be the start of a great and long rivalry.
Herre: Fowler's success will depend on the pairings. I like the idea of sending him out with Dustin Johnson a couple of powerful young dudes who will either explode or implode.
Dusek: I think Fowler and Bubba Watson will get the nod, and Tiger will get paired again with Stricker. Those two really hit it off at Harding Park. I could see Mickelson and Dustin Johnson playing together, a couple of Butch Harmon guys.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: I'd like to see Rory vs. Tiger since Rory has already said he wants to face Tiger.
Herre: I think Rory would be red meat for Tiger.
Dusek: I think Padraig Harrington could give Tiger problems and would have the crowd in a frenzy. The Celtic Tiger plays the wounded Tiger.
Walker: Mickelson-Fowler feels like a great pairing after how well Mickelson and Anthony Kim played at the Presidents Cup. Tiger Woods vs. Martin Kaymer in singles would be a gripping, challenge-to-the-throne battle.
Hanger: Love Mickelson and Fowler together, for the same reason Mike mentioned. Would also like Johnson & Johnson Dustin's crazy power and Zach's controlled style would be hard to beat. I'd also love to see McIlroy against Fowler in singles.
Shipnuck: Phil wants to play with Dustin. I'd send them out first in every session and let them try to drive every par-4.
WHO WINS THE CUP?
Walker: We have both rosters filled. Final question: Which team is going to win this thing and why?
Hanger: The U.S. takes it. Looking down the team lists, I just don't think the Yanks are as outgunned as everyone seems to think they are. Harrington hasn't been in top form, Westwood's coming back from injury, and outside of winning the Open, what have we seen from McDowell? The Americans win by a point or two.
Shipnuck: U-S-A. Fewer rookies, and less pressure since 1) not at home, 2) not a huge a favorite. The Euro's best player (Westwood) is a question mark. The U.S. has arguably the 3 best players in the world in Tiger, Phil and Stricker (and not long ago, Furyk was in that top 3). Last, but not least, Monty is the Euro captain. You know he'll find a way to screw things up.
Herre: As I've said all along, it's going to be a kicking. Europe in a rout.
Morfit: It's hard to see how Europe could lose this, barring a blowup akin to the French World Cup soccer team. Montgomerie didn't have to go any lower than 19th on the World Ranking list, and that was for three-time major winner Padraig Harrington. Pavin had to dip all the way down to 32nd (winless Fowler) and 36th (Cink).
Herre: Those are interesting numbers, Cam. I've worked up that chart for every RC since 1989, and it was always the Euros who had to go deep into the World Ranking to fill out their roster -- and then they would almost always win. Guess that bodes well for the U.S.
Ritter: Europe wins it by a point. In other words, it'll be like the recent Golf Mag/SI Golf match play event, but with slightly less drama.
Walker: Team USA looks better on paper now that the roster's filled, but this is Europe's year. They have the best player (Kaymer), the deeper team and home-field advantage.
Reiterman: Europe by three. I think they'll have the better putters.
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Europe, unless the U.S. finds a miracle sparkplug that lights a fire we've not seen all year from the American players.
Dusek: I think the European team will win, but not by as wide a margin as I previously thought. The United States players should show up loose; the Euros are going to have all the pressure on their shoulders. I just think they've got the talent to deal with it.