Players hear Ryder Cup fate in varying ways

August, 29, 2010
08/29/10
7:30
PM ET

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Luke Donald had just completed a blistering front nine in 7-under 28 at the Barclays when he was asked by an on-course radio announcer whether he wanted to learn his Ryder Cup fate.

The Englishman acknowledged that he did, then rejoiced when informed he was one of European captain Colin Montgomerie's three wild-card selections.

Actually, he may have rejoiced a little too much.

Donald followed that scorching pace by posting a back-nine 40 that was still pretty easy to swallow considering the news of the day.

"It was a round of two halves," he explained. "Got thrown off a little bit probably from all the Ryder Cup thoughts and knowing that I was in and knowing who wasn't in and who was in. But that's my fault. I didn't compartmentalize enough and hit a few loose shots on the back nine."

Padraig Harrington can empathize. Another captain's selection playing at Ridgewood Country Club -- thousands of miles from the announcement at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland -- he admitted to a lack of focus throughout the round.

That goes for both before and after his wife, Caroline, gave him the thumbs-up signal on the sixth hole, relaying the info that he had made the team.

"If she didn't talk to me for three or four holes, I would know the other way," he said with a laugh. "It wasn't a case of wanting to know. I didn't have an option. Somebody was going to shout it out to me. Somebody was going to tell me, so I might as well have my wife."

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Luke Donald
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesLuke Donald's 28 on the front nine at the Barclays came without his knowing if he had made the European Ryder Cup team. Once he got the good news at the turn, however, Donald shot 40 on the homeward nine.

That led to a few awkward hours on the course, though, as playing partner Paul Casey in effect found out the news without hearing anything at all. No thumbs-up meant no roster spot for the world's No. 9-ranked player.

"I probably need time to take it in," he said. "Simple fact is, I'm not on the team. And I think Europe, they've got an unbelievable team. I wish them the best for the match, simple as that. I'm not going to stand here and sort of plead a case for why I should be on the team. It's done and dusted. I tried my hardest and I didn't make it."

If misery loves company, at least Casey can lean on Justin Rose, who also failed to make the team despite a pair of wins on the PGA Tour this season.

All of which leads to the second-guessing that will surround Monty's selections. His picks -- which also included Johnnie Walker winner Edoardo Molinari in addition to Donald and Harrington -- will be analyzed and criticized up to and beyond the competition itself.

With five world-class players from which to choose, the captain couldn't go wrong. And yet, if his team doesn't triumph in Wales, he will have never had it right.

Really, though, only time will tell.

Much like the punditry that accompanies a presidential election or the NFL draft, immediate reactions to the Ryder Cup picks should be taken with a few grains of salt, considering they are more opinion than anything based on fact.

For those who want to wail about the ineffectiveness of Monty failing to name one of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking and another who is one of only five multiple winners in the U.S. this year, it should be pointed out that these picks can't be determined as incorrect ones until the Ryder Cup has been played and we see how the players fare.

Besides, here's the most important thing that many observers seem to forget: Captain's picks shouldn't be rewards for the players who have fared best over the course of a season. They should be reserved for the players who can win the most points for their side during the competition.

This notion won't serve as consolation for Casey and Rose -- or their supporters, for that matter -- but it should be enough to keep Monty clear of the firing squad. Well, until October, at least.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.

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