With Bubba Watson invited to participate in a U.S. Ryder Cup team practice this weekend at Hazeltine, it would appear that the world No. 7 has the inside track for Davis Love III’s fourth and final captain’s pick.
Watson will join five members of the American squad, as well as assistant captain Jim Furyk, at the site of this month’s biennial match for that practice session, according to Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte.
Furyk’s presence, along with Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, and Dustin Johnson adds another interesting twist to Love’s upcoming wild card announcement on Sunday night. The 46-year-old, who’s scheduled for cart-driving duties with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, is "still in the running" for that final spot on the team, Rosaforte said.
But the Watson development is the most intriguing. After Love named Kuchar, Fowler, and J.B. Holmes on Monday to Team USA, Watson’s prickly personality became the object of much speculation.
You may recall that the two-time Masters champ lapped the field when anonymous PGA Tour players in a 2015 ESPN poll chose him as the guy they would not help in a hypothetical parking lot brawl. He would certainly be a home-crowd favorite, though, with the way he stoked the gallery four years ago at Medinah.
Love, claiming he was "the opposite of that," dispelled the notion that Watson was a toxic waste dump in the locker room.
"Everybody loves Bubba," Love said. "He’s quirky, but so is Phil. I told Bubba after the Olympics, remember, there's a pick after the Tour Championship."
Watson has one more chance to impress the skipper, since a good showing at next week’s final FedEx Cup contest would certainly cement his 12th-man status for the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 matches.
"If he plays well, he's certainly going to be considered," Rosaforte said. "He is not as negative an influence as many people wrote and led us to believe over the last couple of days, at least coming from captain Davis Love."
Watson would lug his 1-3-0 Ryder Cup record to the event, with the U.S. seeking, once again, to halt the Europeans’ ownership of the cup.
The Euros have won three Ryder Cups in a row and eight of the last 10.