Sep 29, 2012; Medinah, IL, USA; United States golfer Keegan Bradley reacts to winning his match on the 12th green during the morning session of the 39th Ryder Cup on day two at Medinah Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Ryder Cup: Potential U.S. Captain's Picks

The Deutsche Bank Championship is in the books and it was the final opportunity for players to make a statement and make the Ryder Cup team as a captain pick. A couple of players did end up making a statement to give Tom Watson a little something to think about.

There are a handful of other players like Kevin Na, Ryan Moore, and Brendon Todd who may get some consideration, but I can’t see realistically getting picked. There are just too many other golfers that you can make a case for and with only three spots a couple of big names won’t be on the team as it is.

So, it’s tough to envision Na or Moore or anyone of those guys getting the nod over golfers that are on the list below. Speaking of that list, here are eight golfers that are strong potential U.S. Captain’s Picks.

Keegan Bradley- Heading into the Deutsche Bank Championship, Keegan Bradley had a lot of pressure on him. The Deutsche Bank Championship held at TPC Boston is a home course for Bradley. That alone is pressure enough to perform well at your home course, but then when you factor in the Ryder Cup pressure, well that amplifies things a couple of levels.

With all that going on a lot of golfers would fold, but Bradley has shown time and time again that he thrives under that kind of pressure. While Bradley didn’t have the best final round, Bradley still ended up finishing in a T-16.

Not only that, but the big advantage Keegan Bradley had going for him is how he and Phil Mickelson played in 2012 at Medinah. Mickelson/Bradley went undefeated at 3-0 during the team matches and they weren’t even close. Mickelson/Bradley went on to win 4 & 3 over Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, 2 &1 over Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, and 7 & 6 over Donald and Lee Westwood.

Bradley was already a strong favorite as a Captain’s pick, but with how he performed I think he may have very well locked up a spot.

Bill Haas- Bill Haas has had a very productive season making the cut at at just about every tournament he’s played in. And of late, Haas has really been playing some lights out golf posting a T-2 at the Wyndham Championship, a T-15 at The Barclays and a T-8 at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The negative on Bill Haas is that he hasn’t played on a Ryder Cup team. He has played on the Presidents Cup in 2011 and 2013, but he hasn’t played all that well posting a 3-5-2 record in the two years.

Still though, can you really leave off a golfer that has only missed two cuts, has made the cut in his last 13 tournaments, and is playing some of his best golf in the last month? Maybe so…

Billy Horschel- Billy Horschel, all of a sudden, just threw his name into the hat with his performance at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Horschel had a great breakout season last year, but has had a bit of a disappointing year never really being in contention until this week.

Will that be enough to make the team? No, not at all. Especially not after that second shot on 18 on the fairway. He showed his nerves.  But, nevertheless, his performance at Deutsche Bank does give Horschel some confidence and momentum heading into the BMW Championship this Thursday and the Tour Championship in two weeks.

Chris Kirk- Along with Horschel, Chris Kirk propelled himself  into strong consideration with his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Not only that, but Kirk has had a really good breakout season. Kirk played on the weekend in his first 19 tournaments of the season. Of late, Kirk has slowed down a bit missing the cut in two of his last six tournaments, but with his win at the Deutsche Bank this week he may get picked.

Aug 31, 2014; Norton, MA, USA; Chris Kirk hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship golf tournament at TPC of Boston. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

However, heading into the Deutsche Bank Championship Kirk was quoted by the New York Times mentioned that he had plans to go see  the Georgia Bulldogs, take on the Tennessee Volunteers in Athens, Georgia the weekend of the Ryder Cup.

Plus, Kirk has stated that he feels he hasn’t earned his way on the team and hasn’t played well enough to get on the team.

“I feel like I haven’t played well enough in the last three or four months to have any honest expectation of making the team. Obviously, I’d love to be apart of it. But I don’t want to make it as a pick. I want to make it on points. So that will have to be the next time around.”

It is worth noting that while Kirk did win, his final putt on 18 wasn’t his best effort. He showed his nerves and in a Ryder Cup environment you can’t have nervous putts like that. That putt may have sealed his fate with the Ryder Cup team, but on the flip side, he did out duel Rory McIlroy for 36 holes.

Hunter Mahan- Hunter Mahan started his year in really good form finishing in the top nine in three of his first five tournaments, but a sore back seemed to plague Mahan all summer long as Mahan didn’t record a top ten in his next 14 tournaments.

Mahan may finally be healthy as he has recorded three top 15′s in his last four tournaments which includes a victory at The Barclays which may have punched his ticket to Gleneagles.

Plus, Mahan has that valuable Ryder Cup experience playing on the winning team at Valhalla in 2008 and on the losing team in Newport, Wales in 2010. Mahan has a solid record overall going 1-0-2 in 2008 (1-0-1 in the team matches with Justin Leonard) and 1-2 in 2010 (1-1 with Zach Johnson).

Ryan Palmer- All season long Ryan Palmer has been consistently very good. Palmer has posted six top ten’s and four top five’s. Palmer has slowed down just a little bit from earlier in the season, but he’s still been very productive.

At the PGA Championship, Palmer was right in the thick of things finishing T-5. Also, at the Deutsche Bank Championship was the leader after round one. Eventually, Palmer finished in a tie for 16th. Will that be enough to warrant a captain’s pick? Probably not, but Palmer is definitely a player that should be – and is – strongly considered.

Webb Simpson- When discussing Ryder Cup super teams, the Mickelson/Bradley duo of 2012 has been well documented. But, there was another American super team that had a lot of success at Medinah and that was the Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson duo. That pair went 2-1 winning their two matches both by a score of 5 & 4. Their only loss they suffered was a 1 up to Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.

Sep 29, 2012; Medinah, IL, USA; United States golfer Bubba Watson (top) helps Webb Simpson line up a putt on the 12th hole during the morning session of the 39th Ryder Cup on day two at Medinah Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Given Bubba Watson’s reputation as one of the least likeable players on Tour, it might be best for the team to pair him with someone that has had success playing with him.

Brandt Snedeker- Overall, this has been a rough year for Snedeker. Sneds has only recorded three top ten’s in 25 events this year. However, Snedeker was heating up at a pretty good time to give himself a good shot at making the Ryder Cup team.

From the U.S. Open on June 12th to the Wyndham Championship on August 14th, Snedeker was rolling and well on his way to making the team. Snedeker in eight tournaments made the cut in all eight tournaments, finished in the top 25 in seven of those tournaments, and finished in the top ten in two of those tournaments, including a T-9 at the U.S. Open.

Since then, however, Snedeker has missed the cut at both The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship making Tom Watson job just a little bit more difficult. Had Snedeker just made the cut at both tournaments and just played decent, I think he would have been a lock.

If I were Tom Watson, my picks would be Bill Haas, Keegan Bradley, and Webb Simpson. To me, it came down to Mahan or Haas? They both are playing some great golf, and while Mahan has the win, I feel Haas has been playing better for a longer period of time and deserves it more.

Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong, but I don’t think Watson will leave Mahan off the team. And again, it’s a tough choice and you can make an argument for both sides.

Watson won’t admit this, or at the very least say it out loud, but he probably wishes a couple of golfers that automatically qualified didn’t qualify. Leaving off whoever it might be in Simpson, Mahan, Haas, etc. is tough to do and Watson has some tough choices. It’ll be interesting to see who he ends up taking to Gleneagles.

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Tags: Bill Haas Brandt Snedeker Chris Kirk Hunter Mahan Keegan Bradley Webb Simpson

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