PGA Tour Confidential: A Tiger-Rory face-off at Bethpage, Sergio pushes for Ryder Cup

Sergio Garcia
Gerry Broome / AP
Sergio Garcia could be a captain's pick for the 2012 European Ryder Cup team.

DUFNER SKIPS BARCLAYS
Reiterman: One prominent name that won't be at Bethpage is Jason Dufner, who's No. 3 in FedEx Cup points. Dufner said he needs some rest since he'd be playing eight out of nine weeks if he teed it up at Bethpage, with his ninth week being the Ryder Cup. Thanks to the funky points structure, we all know a player can skip a playoff event and still win the FedEx Cup (and the $10 million). Were you surprised by Dufner's WD, and do you think the Tour should make it mandatory for qualifiers to play in playoff events?

Bamberger: It points up that the whole playoff system is flawed.

Wei: Yes, this once again shows that the system is flawed. Exhibit A: Jim Furyk in 2010; Exhibit B: Tiger Woods in 2007. Can you win the NBA Finals if you miss the first round of the playoffs? As for Dufner, the stretch for top players from Akron (or even the Open Championship) to the Ryder Cup is a long one. I know it's golf, but travel and mental fatigue count for something.

Dusek: Participation in the FedEx Cup events should be optional, just like participation in all the other PGA Tour events is optional. Frankly, I was more surprised Dufner decided to play in Greensboro than I was he decided to skip Bethpage. After two early-season wins and a good performance at the U.S. Open, Jason had to know he was going to be on the Ryder Cup team.

Herre: The Duf has been grinding, and on or near the top of the leader board pretty much every week. I have no problem with him finally taking a week off. I see him having a big Ryder Cup. I know a certain winning U.S. Ryder Cup captain views him as a natural leader. The Duf reminds me of Ray Floyd -- late bloomer, tough.

Dusek: I can't think of a single player on the U.S. Ryder Cup team who wouldn't love to be paired with him, and none of the European players are going to enjoy facing him.

Shipnuck: Despite appearances, Dufner is a very calculating guy, which was the theme of my feature on him a few months ago. If this is what he thinks he needs to play his best, then I'm on board.

Morfit: I'm not sure a big, broad-shouldered Bethpage Black is made for Jason Dufner anyway.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What do you think of Dufner's decision to skip the playoff opener? Should the Tour make all playoff events mandatory for those who want to be eligible for the $10 million prize?

SERGIO MAKES PLAY FOR RYDER CUP
Reiterman: In the midst of a self-imposed hiatus two years ago, Sergio Garcia didn't make the European Ryder Cup team, but he was there as an assistant captain. After a strong showing at Greensboro, he will more than likely be back on the Euro squad. Your thoughts on Garcia's clutch play this week, and would you be excited to see him back at the Ryder Cup?

Herre: Hope he makes it. Sergio is a terrific R.C. player -- 14-6-4 record -- and does a superb job of getting under the Americans' skin. Missed him last time.

Bamberger: Sergio makes golf more interesting. Always.

Reiterman: It's so true. There are a lot of great characters out there right now, but there's only one Sergio. I can't wait to see him in the Ryder Cup again, and it would be great to see him win a major -- if he can ever believe in himself enough to do it.

Garrity: It's been a long time since Sergio's been a factor in stroke play, but he's got the kind of expansive personality that provides an edge in match play. The Euros will be happy to have him.

Ritter: Think we should wait until Monday's finish to declare Sergio "clutch" this week, but you're right -- he's on the team. In the past, he's transformed into the Terminator at the R.C. No matter which side you pull for, the competition will be more fun with Sergio involved.

Shipnuck: It's a great start, but too soon to pronounce him as clutch. I hope Sergio makes the team because he's great for the event: he fires up both teams.

Herre: Lots of Nearly Men on the Euro side -- Sergio, Westwood, Donald.

Dusek: It's certainly encouraging to see that he is still capable of playing well. I think the European team would be wise to have him on the Ryder Cup squad at Medinah. He's got a lot of passion for the competition, and it would make it that much more fun to see.

Wei: The Ryder Cup is way more fun with Sergio playing; his intensity and fire are unmatchable.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should Sergio be added to the European Ryder Cup team?

FINAL EURO SPOTS
Reiterman: The other guy fighting for a spot on the Euro team is Nicolas Colsaerts, who is also in the hunt at Greensboro and made a run at the Open. Is there any doubt Olazabal won't pick Garcia, Poulter or Colsaerts? Or is there someone else on down the list who might get a pick depending on his play in the next few weeks -- like Harrington or Bjorn?

Herre: No way Bjorn is a pick. Don't know what to think about Paddy. Take his putting, for example. Sometimes he seems rock solid over the ball, then the next week he can't make a three-footer. The guy is all over the place.

Shipnuck: Like Sergio, Paddy's game is up-and-down. But he's a lot stronger mentally. I think Ollie will take his countryman, but as a captain I'd feel more secure with Harrington.

Dusek: Olazabal might consider Harrington, but I think Poulter is a lock right now. I would've been surprised if he were left off the team before the PGA Championship, but his performance on Sunday at Kiawah should have sealed the deal. If Garcia holds on in Greensboro, he'll make the team too.

Ritter: I could see Harrington snagging that last spot, but I agree with Herre -- he's not the most confidence-inspiring pick. I like Colsaerts a lot. Maybe another basher like Quiros could be an option?

Garrity: Quiros is a serious option, since captain Love will probably set up Medinah to play long for the bombers on his squad.

Herre: I like the idea of Quiros too. He also has a lot of personality and would add to the event. He would also give Ollie some extra options when it comes to pairings. Maybe Love should pick a resurgent John Daly to counter. [ Tell us who you think Love should pick.]

Dusek: Quiros has a happy-go-lucky kind of attitude that might be less affected by Ryder Cup pressure, but the more I think about it, the more I doubt anyone could be immune to Ryder Cup pressure. Giving a captain's pick to a guy who is known as an especially good putter is one thing. I'm not a fan of selecting players based on the venue or how you think the course might be set up.

Wei: Quiros is fun and hits it a mile, but when he misses, it's off the planet! Quiros is one of about a handful of players who has missed every cut at the majors this year. As much as I like him, no way he makes it.

Herre: Steph, no fair injecting facts into your argument.

Garrity: I concede that you can over-think selections based upon course setups, but it's pretty clear that Europe usually has the best putters. So how do you de-fang those putters? You do it by making them hit hybrids or long irons into the greens. Even the best putters don't make many 40-footers.

Dusek: I don't disagree, John, and if the setup were left up to me, I would completely remove the rough and play the matches exclusively from the back tees.

Wei: Tough choice for Olazabal. If Sergio makes the team on points, I'd take Poulter, who is incredible in match play and a clutch putter. He's also obnoxious, which could throw off the U.S. team, though he might be different on hostile soil. And then I'd take Colsaerts. The kid has impressed me the past few months. He hits it a mile and is an excellent iron player.

Bamberger: I think Olazabal is going to go with old horses and proven names.

Wei: Agreed, but I still like Colsaerts...c'mon Ollie, live a little!

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Which two players should captain Olazabal select to complete the European team?

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