Michaux On Ryder Cup Points Race

The Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux with a different take on the Ryder Cup points standings as well as the likely Captain's picks:

For all of the criticism that has been levied against the revamped American Ryder Cup points system, it should be given credit for helping to uncover new blood that might never have been given the slightest consideration in the past. The Ryder Cup has been a closed shop for too long, and the Americans have been paying for it on the course against European squads that have been far more successful at finding fresh talent.

Consider this. There are only 28 active PGA Tour players under the age of 50 who have ever competed in a Ryder Cup. And that definition of "active" is very generous to include the likes of Ken Green, Steve Pate, Jim Gallagher Jr. and Hal Sutton.

Just how closed shop is it? Four-time PGA Tour winner Tim Herron (currently 16th in points) has never played in a Ryder or Presidents Cup. Neither has six-time winner and 1988 PGA Champion Jeff Sluman (23rd). Or double major winner John Daly.

The U.S. has a bad habit of putting too much stock in "experience." When most of that recent experience in Ryder Cups has been bad, maybe the old school thinking has to change.

Which is why the worst thing Lehman could do on the Monday after the PGA Championship is step up to the podium and introduce Davis Love III or Fred Couples as his captain's picks - leaning on their veteran leadership as the crutch for making a ridiculous decision that would in no way be in the best interests of American golf.

If that sounds too harsh, please check the 2006 records - which is what the new Ryder Cup points system is designed to accentuate. Other than fine performances (which ultimately displayed serious flaws) on his two favorite courses - Riviera and Augusta National Golf Course - Couples hasn't finished better than 24th in any event since October. And Love hasn't registered anything notable since his runner-up finish in the WGC Match Play in February.

Love and Couples, however, rank 14th and 15th on the current Ryder Cup points list, which masks their ineffectiveness this year and makes it tempting for a captain to play it safe with their 12 and nine prior at-bats in international team play.

Lehman, however, doesn't sound like a captain who will be prone to playing it safe.

"I think at the end of the day, I'm really looking for guys who are going the right direction with their game," Lehman said Tuesday. "If they were 25th three months ago, and they were 20th two months ago and now they are 15th or they end up 12th where they are improving and improving and getting better and better."

The only veterans with international team experience who fit that description are Jerry Kelly (12th), Stewart Cink (19th) and Scott Verplank (22nd). And if the team already includes five rookies, any of those three would be fine choices.