To keep the context, the following players qualified via points for the top 10 spots: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Burger, Brooks Keopka, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, and Kevin Chappell.
Just outside of the top 10 were: Charley Hoffman (11), Brian Harman (12), Jason Dufner (13), Gary Woodland (14), Phil Mickelson (15), Brendan Steele (16), Brandt Snedeker (17), Bill Haas (18).
Now, I had spent a little part of my week in the car, and with PGA Tour Radio, there was some discussion on who Captain Stricker should be picking. And of course social media was buzzing with "suggestions" and predictions. Not surprisingly, Phil Mickelson was the subject of most conversations - and I was actually surprised by how much "anti-Phil" sentiment was out there. I get that not everyone is a fan, and I can see the arguments that there were several other players who would do great, but ...this...is...Phil.
You can read any number of articles & blogs about Phil's "team history" (23 consecutive years), his record (23-16-12 in President's Cup), his passion, his ability to bring a team together. And you can read about the length of time since his last PGA Tour win (July 2013) , his health, his age (47), etc.
But in the end, for me, anyway, it came down to the 2016 Ryder Cup - it was the reminder that Match Play/Team Play is a different animal, and sometimes the right passion, the right mix of players, the emotion of the crowd, the TEAM makes players play differently...and I'm not going to lie, I'm already waiting for the Mickelson - Kuchar Shimmy Shake again!! So in my mind, and obviously in my heart, Phil Mickelson was absolutely a right pick for the President's Cup.
But that left one more pick - and that was Charley Hoffman - Hoffman, at #11, seemed like the logical 2nd pick because just the week before he was #10, just in front of Chappell. After a pretty slow start to the 16-17 PGA Tour season (5 missed cuts in his first 8 events), Hoffman had a top -5 in each month from February to April 2017. And his season included a solo 8th at the US Open and 3 more top -5's from June to August. It's hard to argue against him.
But this morning, on my way to work, I wondered to myself, if Charley Hoffman had been number 10, and Kevin Chappell had been #11, would Chappell been the automatic pick or would someone like Harman, Woodland, or Bill Haas been considered instead? This came to my mind because I didn't know much about Chappell. His 16-17 season included 25 events, 1 win (Texas Open), 6 missed cuts, and 5 top 10's. Not bad!!
Chappell turned Pro in 2008 and this year was his first PGA Tour win, which matched his 1 web.com win.
I'm sure he's going to do great, but would maybe someone like Brian Harmon been picked instead of Chappell? Harmon also had 1 win this year, played 28 events, 6 top 10's, 8 missed cuts, but earned $4.2 million vs. Chappell's $2.8 million.
I remember Haas was a questionable pick a few years ago and he came through for the team, so he might have been a decent pick as well.
No matter what, I'm just excited for another team play competition and I'll be rooting for the USA!! And of course I'm hoping for a Mickelson - Kuchar pairing!! I'm smiling right now, too, thinking back to the amazing Ryder Cup experience we had in Minnesota last year...I might need to re-read those blogs again.
I'll let you know when Steve Stricker gets a hold of me!!
GO PRESIDENT'S CUP!!