United States captain Davis Love III will ask his team for advice about picking four wildcards for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, in Minnesota.
Love aims to avoid an unprecedented fourth straight American defeat when play begins on 27 September.
He will pick three wildcards to add to his eight automatic qualifiers on 12 September, with a fourth selection five days before the competition starts.
“It’s time for these eight to take ownership of this team,” Love said.
“If they go in there believing in what we are telling them, that they have the best team, and that they are ready to go, then they are going to play well.”
Patrick Reed’s victory in The Barclays on Sunday secured his automatic place on the team alongside Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson.
Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson is one of the wildcard contenders, along with 2015 Scottish Open champion Rickie Fowler.
Love was the American captain when Europe achieved their biggest final-day comeback to secure a 14?-13? win at Medinah in 2012.
The American team struggled after defeat in 2014, with Phil Mickelson criticising the captaincy of Tom Watson, who later accused him of “sour grapes”.
“Golf is different than other sports. [The] mental side of it is huge,” Love added.
On the face of it, Russell Knox has been hard done by in missing out on a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine at the end of September.
Knox is the world number 20 at the moment. Only five players in Darren Clarke’s team are ranked higher than the Inverness man – Henrik Stenson (four), Rory McIlroy (five), Justin Rose (10), Danny Willett (11) and Sergio Garcia (12).
The other seven in Clarke’s team are ranked below – and in some cases miles below – Knox in the world order. Rafa Cabrera Bello is ranked 27th, Chris Wood is 28th, Thomas Pieters is 41st, Andy Sullivan is 42nd, Lee Westwood 46th, Matt Fitzpatrick 48th and Martin Kaymer 50th.
Clarke was always going to go for at least two experienced players among his three captain’s picks and nobody can quibble with the inclusion of Ryder Cup warriors Westwood and Kaymer.
Three wildcards – but, in real life, there was only ever one spot up for grabs as soon as it became obvious that the Englishman and the German would require a pick.
Knox a ‘shoo-in’ after second PGA victory
When Knox sank that terrific putt across the 18th green to win the Travelers Championship in early August he looked like a shoo-in for the team. It was Knox’s second victory on the PGA Tour since November – the other being his breakthrough win in an all-star field at the WGC in Shanghai.
He was not a member of the European Tour then, so the ranking points did not count towards his Ryder Cup bid. Had he joined the Tour a week before instead of a week after, he would have made the team automatically.
That night of the Travelers the lost points in Shanghai did not seem to matter because the Scot’s form was looking formidable. Apart from his two wins, he would also finished second to Graeme McDowell at the OHL Classic, second again to Branden Grace at the Heritage and second once more to Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open.
The gist was that Clarke probably wanted three experienced players as his wildcards to counterbalance the five rookies already in his team, but that Knox was forcing his hand with his excellence.
In early August, Knox looked a certainty.
Knox ‘did himself no favours’
Things changed, dramatically. The fast emergence of Pieters was something that Knox, and others, did not see coming. Fourth at the Olympics, second at the Czech Masters and first last week at the Made in Denmark event was a hell of a run by the talented Belgian.
Suddenly, Knox had a challenger for that one wildcard spot.
Knox has not helped himself either. You could not say for sure that he blew his own chances but he did himself no favours by his approach post-Travelers. He had two ranking events left after that and he played in neither of them.
He thought he had done enough. He sat back and waited for Clarke’s call while Pieters burned it up elsewhere. Knox should have played in the Wyndham on the PGA Tour to show his intent to qualify by right, but he did not.
He should have gone to Denmark last week, thereby showing his captain that he had a huge desire to make the team, but instead he opted for the cash mountain that was The Barclays. There were Ryder Cup points on offer in Denmark but not in the USA. In choosing the USA, the Scot gave out a bad signal.
Interview claims ‘smacked of arrogance’
At the beginning of last week, an interview with Knox was published in Golf Digest magazine. That, too, probably damaged his case for a pick. Knox displayed an alarming sense of entitlement. It would have been understandable had Clarke harboured grave doubts about Knox’s ability to fit into a team once he read that interview.
“As I said to someone recently, my big problem was not getting the points for winning in China,” said Knox of his victory in Shanghai.
“I’d be in if they counted. So there is a moral obligation to pick me, I guess. I don’t want Darren to pick me because of that, though. His goal is to pick the three best players who did not make the team. And I have a hard time not thinking I am one of those right now.”
Moral obligation? This was a player dictating to a captain – and no good ever comes of that. It was a bizarre approach from Knox; it was utterly self-defeating when Pieters was already laying down a huge case for inclusion.
Knox went on: “If all he [Clarke] does is list those he thinks are playing the best right now, I don’t know how I can’t be in the top 12. I know people are assuming I am the third of the three picks if he goes for Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. But I should really be the first.”
The first? It smacked of arrogance.
Knox has only recently become a member of the European Tour, but ticking a box is not enough. He has not shown the commitment to playing in this part of the world that his captain would want.
Pieters is a dedicated member of the Tour. Knox is not. Because he played in Denmark last week, Pieters got to partner his captain – and shot the lights out in his company – while Knox was in New York playing The Barclays. Out of sight, out of mind.
The Belgian is a terrific player, a massive hitter, a birdie-machine and a future star of the Tour. He deserves his spot. Knox played his way into contention and then let the moment slip.
Russell Knox: Scot ‘let his Ryder Cup moment slip’
England posted the highest ever one-day international total as they beat Pakistan by 169 runs at Trent Bridge to secure a series victory.
Alex Hales struck a record 171 and Jos Buttler made England’s fastest ever 50 from 22 balls as England hit 444-3.
This surpassed the 443-9 posted by Sri Lanka against the Netherlands in 2006.
Pakistan were forced to bat aggressively but their batsmen struggled to build partnerships as they were bowled out for 279.
England have now won 11 of their past 12 ODIs against Pakistan and have a 14-8 ‘Super Series’ lead, with two ODI games and a Twenty20 match remaining (all limited-overs matches are worth two points each).
“That’s the most exciting thing for us; that we’re still improving,” added Notts opener Hales.
“To get the world record is a credit to the work we’ve put in and what we’re hoping to achieve.”
What the pundits said
Ex-England spinner Graeme Swann on Test Match Special: “I’ve got to take my hat off to Alex Hales – he played the world’s worst one-day innings by an opener at Lord’s three days ago, but he came out and played an incredible knock here. He rode his luck, but by the end his ball-striking was phenomenal.”
Ex-England seamer Isa Guha on Test Match Special: “Someone who can absorb that pressure and come out and play the way Hales did belongs on the international stage. And let’s not forget the role Joe Root played.”
England captain Eoin Morgan: “Alex Hales’ innings today was monumental. He has needed runs this summer and today they have all come at once. International cricket is about managing lower times as well as higher times. He fully deserves all the recognition.”
England v Pakistan: Alex Hales was not aware of record-breaking ODI score
Ireland had to battle on day one of the Intercontinental Cup game against Hong Kong as the home side were dismissed for 316 with the visitors 2-0 in reply.
After winning the toss at Stormont, Irish skipper William Porterfield hit 88 before falling to Nadeem Ahmed, who took four wickets.
Gary Wilson was also denied a century as he was the last man out for 95.
Ireland have won their first three Intercontinental Cup games as they aim to maintain their push for Test status.
Victory in the four-game day will move the Irish above current table leaders Afghanistan with the winners in the eight-nation competition going on to face the bottom-ranked Test nation in 2018 for the right to earn Test cricket.
Porterfield and Ed Joyce put on 53 for the opening wicket before the Sussex veteran became the first of Tanwir Afzal’s four dismissals.
Niall O’Brien (14), John Anderson (13) and Paul Stirling (20) were all dismissed after getting starts to leave Ireland on 156-4.
After Porterfield’s departure, Kevin O’Brien was out for only six but Wilson and George Dockrell put on 65 for the seventh wicket in the best partnership of the Irish innings.
Ireland leave out McCarthy and McBrine
Spinner Dockrell and Craig Young had both been named in the Irish bowling attack with Barry McCarthy and Andy McBrine losing out.
Dockrell was dismissed by Afzal for 32 but Tim Murtagh (10) stayed sufficiently long with Wilson to nudge the Irish innings over the 300 mark.
After Murtagh’s dismissal and Craig Young’s quick departure, Wilson was down to his last partner and as he chased his century, he edged to wicketkeeper Chris Carter.
In reply, Hong Kong had to negotiate seven overs before the close but Ninad Shah and Aizad Khan both survived as the visitors reached 2-0.
With McCarthy left out of the starting XI, he has been released to play for Durham in their County Championship match against Nottinghamshire which begins on Wednesday.
ICC Intercontinental Cup: Ireland made to battle by Hong Kong at Stormont