A handful of American golfers entered the Tour Championship with the final spot on the United States Ryder Cup roster on the line, and captain Davis Love III selected Ryan Moore as the 12th and final member of the team after he lost in a playoff to Rory McIlroy Sunday. Two-time major champion Bubba Watson and Kevin Chappell - who was also involved in the Tour Championship playoff - each put themselves in cosideration, but there are a number of reasons why Moore was the clear choice for Team USA.
Moore finished the season brilliantly
Of all the available candidates, Moore’s the one with the consistently hot hand. He won the John Deere Classic back in August and put up three top-10 finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Moore’s a PGA Tour veteran and five-time winner, but he’s quietly put together the best year of his career in 2016.
He didn’t wilt in a duel against Rory McIlroy
Moore’s Sunday at East Lake ended up being a near-perfect Ryder Cup audition - aside from the fact he lost a playoff. Moore went head to head with the European Team’s best player in what were essentially match play conditions and pushed McIlroy to four playoff holes in the Tour Championship. Moore’s drive on the final hole got him in trouble, but he even drained a lengthy par putt to put pressure on McIlroy.
His rookie status shouldn’t be an issue
Moore’s represented the United States on Walker and Palmer Cup teams as an amateur, but he had never made a Ryder Cup team until 2016 at the age of 33. While it may be considered risky to pick a golfer with no Ryder Cup experience, Moore is only the second rookie on a very experienced U.S. team and can be paired with a veteran - while Europe has five rookies on the roster.
He’s a better player than Bubba Watson close to the hole
Watson, the favorite to be selected heading into the Tour Championship, has a massive advantage over Ryan Moore in terms of driving distance, but Moore leads Watson in strokes gained with approach shots and - crucially - has a huge lead in strokes gained putting. There are enough bombers on the United States team already. Moore’s weakness can be hidden by a partner, and he can focus on delivering near the green.