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Making Sense of the Ryder Cup Bubble

Jim Furyk (Getty Images)
Jim Furyk (Getty Images)

We’re 49 days out from the Ryder Cup, which means it’s time for rampant speculation on who will make the team, who will be left out, and who will be paired with whom. After the top eight players in the Ryder Cup point standings, Davis Love III will be able to pick four additional golfers to join the U.S. team. There are several players on the bubble, including Jim Furyk, who just shot a PGA-record 58 at the Travelers Championship. On the latest ShackHouse podcast, Geoff Shackelford and Joe House broke down the race.

For the full podcast, check out the latest episode of ShackHouse here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Geoff Shackelford: [There’s] an interesting dilemma for Davis Love going forward with the Ryder Cup because he’s got four picks and he’s got some very interesting names swirling around at the outer edges of the Ryder Cup list. And we of course talked to Jim Furyk, who’s already an assistant captain, about this on ShackHouse a while ago, and he seemed to be pretty locked in as an assistant captain. But I’m having a hard time seeing how he gets left off the team with a second-place [finish] at the U.S. Open and rounds like [his 58 at the Travelers] and his steadiness. I mean, it’s a great problem to have for Davis Love. At least there’s that.

Joe House: Yeah, our list of guys [who are] on the outside looking in was [Brandt] Snedeker and [Rickie] Fowler and, who else? [Matt] Kuchar and [Patrick] Reed. And now we have to talk about our boy, you know the only guy — we sort of batted around Bill Haas — but it’s legitimately a discussion now with Furyk. And he was not able to close out in Chicago a couple years ago, so I don’t know where that sort of leaves folks. Is he a popular pick or not a popular pick in terms of a guy who’s obviously in form as the Ryder Cup approaches? But with kind of a mixed-bag performance, especially over the last two or three that he’s been in.

G.S.: His record is not good at all. It’s terrible, actually. So that’s something that people seize on. But Davis Love has already pretty much said he wants to pick him. And then there was an interesting story. … It was a piece where Love had revealed all the things Tiger has been texting him and telling him. And Tiger’s already decided who he thinks should be picked and he’s already working on pairings, which I think is fascinating. And I think both of those things point to Furyk already being in their plans and I completely endorse it. How can you not, the way he’s been playing? But, boy, this Olympic golf this week is going to add to some of the drama because all of the particulars other than Furyk, the people we’re talking about — Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler — are all right in those final spots, and I think one of them is not going to get picked potentially.

J.H.: So that’s precisely my question to you: Who do you leave out?

G.S.: I don’t want to make too much of a judgment on this because I don’t know the particulars, but I watched the threesome of Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, and Bubba Watson play while Patrick Reed was playing about two holes back here at the Rio Olympic golf course. And as far as I know, he was welcome to play with his American teammates but just chose not to. Now, I don’t know what those things you read into a selection, because they love to profess “it’s a team event” and “you have to bond.” And, yes, you have to kind of bond with your partner in foursomes and four-ball. But the idea that somebody is good in the team room — I just don’t know how important that is. It will be interesting if Patrick Reed’s more loner style ends up being a problem for him. Personally, I think Bubba would be the one who would be left out if it were me, just based on Reed’s play in the Ryder Cup and wanting to have a younger player who’s got an attitude. But I think Bubba’s gonna contend for a medal here in Rio, so that’s going to throw a little bit of a curve into this mix.

J.H.: Well, Reed right now is eighth. He went from tenth to eighth in the Ryder Cup point standings based on his performance — I think he snuck in with another [top 11] at the Travelers.

So now he’s on the list, he’s on the team, he’s not a selection. The guys nine through 12 are Snedeker, Bubba, Kuchar, and Rickie. Those are your nine-through-12 spots, and all of those guys would have to be selections, so we’re talking about, at the moment, Furyk replacing one of those guys. And you think Bubba could be the guy that’s on the outside looking in — except you’re expecting big things from Bubba this week.