It's crunch time for Ryder Cup picks

And if Tom Watson were to go outside the box, who might he choose?

Updated: September 1, 2014, 8:56 PM ET
ESPN.com

So who made their best Ryder Cup case for U.S. captain Tom Watson this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship?

Watson himself was a surprising selection to lead Team USA, so if he went with that same line of thinking, who might he chose?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. If you were Tom Watson, who are you adding to Team USA with your three captain's picks on Tuesday night?

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Chris Kirk. Give me two guys with experience and the guy who stared down world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, not once, but twice this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Keegan Bradley: He went 3-0 with Phil Mickelson at the Medinah matches. He energized Mickelson, who will be the leader and emotional anchor of this team. Hunter Mahan: A two-time Ryder Cupper, Mahan is one of the best drivers of the ball in the game. He will fit with any player Watson pairs him with at Gleneagles. Bill Haas: The five-time tour winner has had a T-2, T-15 and T-9 in his past three starts. He would be a Ryder Cup rookie, but he is a two-time Presidents Cup member.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: There is no "hit-you-over-the-head'' pick, so here goes: Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Chris Kirk. Bradley, due to his passion and excellent pairing possibilities with Phil Mickelson. Mahan and Kirk because they've won the playoff events and at least have shown form with the matches only a few weeks away.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Chris Kirk. Bradley was practically a shoo-in and he made Watson's life easier with a T-16 finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The other two spots are up in the air, but I'll go with Barclays winner Hunter Mahan (despite three rounds in the 70s in Boston) and Chris Kirk, who cashed the winner's check this week. Webb Simpson, unfortunately, ends up as the odd man out. Brandt Snedeker had a shot, but missing the cut two straight weeks in the playoffs likely ended his chances.


2. Give us an outside-the-box pick who should be on Tom Watson's radar.

Collins: Knowing Billy Horschel is trending back into form and the energy he'd bring in a hostile environment, I'd hope U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is at least considering him ... even after that shot on the 18th on Monday.

Evans: Tom Watson said he wanted hot players. Chris Kirk won this week at Deutsche Bank under a great deal of final-round pressure. He's now won twice in the 2013-2014 season.

Harig: Bill Haas. With nobody standing out, Haas fits the mold of a steady player who has been solid, if not spectacular, all year. Since withdrawing from the RBC Heritage in April, he has not missed a cut.

Maguire: Billy Horschel, because he has the potential to be the American version of Ian Poulter, at least from a passion standpoint. Remember, this is the guy who has been known to show this kind of emotion and isn't afraid to wear some horrific-looking clothing that often pops up at the Ryder Cup. (Just kidding.) Horschel hasn't played well the last couple of months, and his self-described worst swing of the week Monday couldn't have come at a worse time, but the excitement this guy could bring would be awesome.


3. Share a "bubble guy" who is playing the BMW Championship and could make the field at East Lake.

Collins: Morgan Hoffmann. He was on the outside looking in and played his way into Deutsche Bank Championship. Even with two doubles on Monday, he managed to shoot even par and move up four spots. He's got the game to make it to Atlanta.

Evans: Kevin Stadler. At 32nd in the standings, Stadler is in a good position to leap into the top 30. He took his first Tour win earlier this year in Phoenix on his way to making the cut in all four majors, including a tie for eighth in the Masters. At the Barclays, he finished in a tie for 16th.

Harig: Phil Mickelson. Lefty has nothing to lose, and he returns to a venue where he had success as an amateur. He has made every Tour Championship in the FedEx era and has never finished worse than 15th in the final standings. He needs a good week to get back to Atlanta.

Maguire: Morgan Hoffmann. He started the playoffs at No. 124 out of 125 and posted a T-9 at the Barclays. Then, by birdieing the final two holes Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the Oklahoma State product punched his ticket to the BMW Championship. He'll start the week at Cherry Hills in the 68th (out of 70) slot in FedEx Cup points, and only the top 30 move on to the Tour Championship. He likely never thought he'd get this far, so why not continue the dream one more week?


4. What will be the biggest challenge facing the field of 70 players this week at Cherry Hills, host venue of the BMW Championship?

Collins: Learning a course they've never seen before in two days. Most of the guys playing this week have never set foot on Cherry Hills, and even for those who took a private jet there, fatigue will be a factor. So balancing practice, preparation and rest will be a challenge.

Evans: Fatigue. Three consecutive weeks is a tough stretch for any player. And it's made more difficult with the pressure of advancing in a playoff scenario.

Harig: Few, if any of the players, know the venue, which is a rarity in tour golf these days. And they have very little time to learn it. Those who played Monday will likely opt to take Tuesday off and have just the pro-am on Wednesday to prepare. Perhaps those players who skipped the Barclays, such as Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, have an advantage for that reason.

Maguire: The altitude change playing so far above sea level. These guys know how to adjust to courses from week to week, even new ones during the playoffs like Conway Farms last year for the BMW. But the altitude change isn't something they deal with all that often during the season and a guy like Geoff Ogilvy, who won at Reno-Tahoe, could be an unlikely sleeper pick.

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