If you have been following the coverage over the past few weeks, most “Golf Analysts” disregarded Rickie Fowler’s chances of making the team. They said “he has not won on tour,” “he has never contended in a major,” etc. All of that may be true but I always felt like it was down to him or Kim. Here is why:
Very simply, Fowler and Kim are from Southern California and so is Pavin (UCLA). I lived in Southern CA for thirteen years and I know how the locals think – they like other locals. I had a good suspicion Pavin would pick one of them. Pavin has had the opportunity to watch Rickie Fowler grow as a player and follow his career since his junior days. I believe that exposure provided him with the information he needed to have confidence in Rickie as a Captains Pick.
I also believe that Anthony Kim would have been selected instead of Fowler if his injury would have healed faster or had he played better since his comeback. His play was not great leading into the selection this week. In fact, he just missed the cut at The Barclays Tournament two weeks ago. I believe another factor in Pavin’s decision to not pick Kim was to question how Anthony Kim’s thumb would hold up in the Wales playing conditions. Everyone expects cold, wet, windy conditions for the Ryder Cup in Wales later this month. In addition, the players may face thick gorse and heavy rough on the course. Those are not ideal conditions for a player coming off of a three month thumb injury. Also, many players will play 36 holes a day in the Ryder Cup and I doubt Pavin wanted to be faced with sitting Kim due to injury concerns. As Caption, he needs to be able to play who he wants and when he wants without restriction.
Don’t get me wrong -- Rickie Fowler is a very talented player who deserves a look. He’s had a good rookie year on tour and a great Amateur career. I actually like the pick because we need guys on the team who have some character and play with confidence. Fowler has both. However, statistically speaking, in most categories he is not near the top of the list, evidenced by his 2010 PGA Tour Stats. According to thegolfchannel.com, as of September 6th, 2010 courtesy, his stats are as follows:
PGA Tour Money List -25th
World Rank – 33rd
Scrambling % -92nd
Scoring Avg. - 73rd
Birdie Avg. - 114th
Total putts per round – 119th
Greens in regulation % -19th
Fairways hit % -91st
Ball Striking – 19th
To view all of Rickie’s stats click on this link;
No matter how you look at Pavin’s decision to pick Fowler, there had to be some emotion involved, including his comfort level with players from Southern California. Fowler is not in the top 10 of any statistical category and is only in the top 20 in two. However, stats do not measure a player’s heart, desire or will to win, Fowler has all of these and I wish him the best of luck in Wales.