On Sunday evening, once the PGA Championship was complete, Davis Love III contacted the eight players who had qualified automatically for the U.S. Ryder Cup team he will captain in late September.
Tiger Woods. Bubba Watson. Jason Dufner. Keegan Bradley. Webb Simpson. Zach Johnson. Matt Kuchar. Phil Mickelson.
That was the easy part.
Now Love, who is playing in the Wyndham Championship this week at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, has until Sept. 4 to determine the four players who will join the team that will attempt to win back the little gold trophy from the Europeans.
Who will it be?
No one would argue if Love took the next four players on the points list once the automatic qualifiers were determined at the end of the PGA Championship: Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler.
But what about Dustin Johnson, who missed part of the year because of injury?
Brandt Snedeker? Bo Van Pelt? Bill Haas?
You obviously want some experience, Love said Youre not going to pick four guys that have never played Ryder Cup before.
I would say nobodys really out of it because if you get hot the next three weeks, we are going to want you on the team. I would encourage everybody to just relax, go play. Theres no set formula to make it.
During his Monday news conference, Love did everything but admit hell pick Stricker. He has been one of the top U.S. players for several years and he has been a fixture on recent Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. He and Woods have been a rock-solid pairing, going 6-2 together over the past three international competitions.
Well look very hard at that, Love said.
Mahan also seems a lock. He has won twice this year and Love regularly has mentioned how surprised he is that Mahan didnt immediately qualify on points.
With three Ryder Cup rookies Dufner, Bradley and Simpson Furyks experience likely will land him another spot despite final-round meltdowns at the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational.
The trickiest decision might involve Fowler, who won the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte in May. Though he didnt win a match in the 2010 Ryder Cup, his late rally to earn a halve against Edoardo Molinari during the closing singles matches was a high point for the U.S. team.
Love, who served as assistant captain to Corey Pavin in Wales, said Fowler and Watson were the team clowns two years ago.
However, Fowler recently has posted two tournament scores in the 80s and hasnt finished among the top 30 in his past five starts.
You certainly have to consider pairings when you pick a guy, Love said. You dont want to pick a guy that you dont know who hes going to play with. You dont want to pick a guy thats not going to be comfortable and a team leader.
We have a lot of guys that can play golf really, really well. I could just throw a dart and pick four guys that are really good golfers. Its putting together a team and matching up whos going to play with Tiger; who is going to play with Bubba; who is going to play with Jason.
Love has the benefit of watching players for three more weeks. Snedeker and Haas also are in the field at Greensboro and the others will be in the first two FedEx Cup playoff events that will begin next week. Love said he was hitting practice balls Sunday and thought about trying to make the team himself with a hot run before Sept. 4.
The trick is who can handle the pressure, he said. Thats who were going to be looking for. Weve been close the last few Ryder Cups We know we can do it. Its just a matter of doing it at Medinah (Ill.), thats the trick.