Love expected to look beyond 'Bubba' factor

Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:09pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Team chemistry or an elite player? That is the question facing United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III as he considers the merits of twice Masters champion Bubba Watson for his final wildcard pick.

Based on his first three selections announced on Monday, Love has perhaps already decided against the brilliant but unpredictable Watson, and will opt instead for an uncapped player such as Ryan Moore or Daniel Berger.

World number seven Watson, renowned for his booming drives and creative short game, has played in the last three Ryder Cups and would be the third-highest ranked American if selected for this month's matches against holders Europe in Minnesota.

However, the 37-year-old is viewed by many pundits as a risky option, and his putting could end up being his Achilles' heel.

Though he would add experience and a resume that includes seven PGA Tour titles along with his two Masters green jackets, he would also bring a reputation for being high maintenance with a tendency to let his mind wander, both on and off the course.

Watson was the most notable omission when Love named his first three captain's picks - Rickie Fowler, JB Holmes and Matt Kuchar - on Monday, having missed out on automatic qualification by just one spot.

Love will announce his final wildcard selection on Sept. 25, after the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, to round out his 12-man team, and he is widely expected to look beyond Watson.

"What would happen if Bubba Watson won at East Lake? Is that what he has to do to get the pick?" Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo said on a conference call on Tuesday to preview the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup.   Continued...

May 12, 2016; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Davis Love III hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2016 Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports -