U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III has a daunting job ahead of him: filling the four spots on his squad reserved for wildcard picks. Who’s on DLIII’s short list? Presumably he already has his favorites — and we have ours. Each day in the run-up to Sept. 12, when Love will announce three of his picks (he won’t name his final pick until Sept. 26, the Monday after the Tour Championship), a GOLF.com staffer will make the case for a player who deserves the nod. Up next, three-time Ryder Cupper Matt Kuchar. Who do you think belongs on the team? Let us know here.
The last time Matt Kuchar represented his country, he shot 63 and won an Olympic bronze medal.
So it’s a no-brainer. Give him another chance to represent the USA, this time in a Ryder Cup.
But if patriotism alone isn’t enough, how about stats?
Kuchar ranks eighth on Tour in strokes gained (1.449) and ninth in scoring average (69.762). He’s also T14 in birdie average (3.87) — and it’s birdies that win when it comes to match play and the Ryder Cup.
Of the four Americans ranked ahead of Kuchar in strokes gained, three of them — Dutin Johnson (3rd, 1.911), Phil Mickelson (4th, 1.818) and Jordan Spieth (5th, 1.783) — are already on the team, and the other, Rickie Fowler (6th, 1.672), is a likely captain’s pick. As for the U.S. players ahead of him in birdie average, four — Johnson, Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Mickelson — are already on the team, and only one, J.B. Holmes, seems like a realistic option for a captain’s pick. (Apologies to Robert Garrigus, Andrew Loupe and Bud Cauley.)
So, why not Kuchar?
The 15th-ranked player in the world won’t wow anyone or generate Mickelson-like crowds, but he’s likable and an important part of the team’s chemistry. (He’s a Ping-Pong stud, the go-to game in the team room.)
His Ryder winning percentage of 45.5% — four wins, five losses and two halves — doesn’t jump off the page, but it’s comparable to Mickelson (46.3%) and a notch above several others: Bubba Watson (27.3%), Jim Furyk (35.3%) and Fowler (31.3%). Fowler’s never even won a match (0-3-5), as his “winning” percentage is comprised of those five halves.
The 38-year-old Kuchar has been at his best in fourball, owning a 2-1-2 all-time Ryder Cup record. He’s 5-2-2 if you include the Presidents Cup. Kuchar is 1-2 in singles, but he’s shown some chops. He won the 2013 WGC Match Play with a 6-0 record, downing Ryder Cup stalwart Sergio Garcia in the second round and topping Hunter Mahan 2 and 1 in the finals. In a three-year stretch from 2011 to 2013 at the WGC Match Play, Kuchar was 14-2. Granted, it’s been a few years, but he’s still 21-12-1 all-time in match play singles (Ryder Cup, WGC Match Play, Presidents Cup).
Six times Kuchar has been an automatic qualifier for the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. A captain’s pick shouldn’t hold him back from making another.
For Love, there should be no doubt.