NEW YORK: USA captain Tom Watson selected Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his three wildcard selections for a Ryder Cup team intent on revenge later this month at Gleneagles, Scotland.
The Americans have lost five of the past six biennial team golf showdowns against Europe, including in 2012 at Medinah, when the visitors made a stunning last-day singles rally to stun the US squad on home soil.
“That was a hard loss for the American players and it still sticks with a lot of them,” Watson said on Tuesday. “They want to make amends for what happened at Medinah two years ago.”
Previously assured of a place on the US team for the September 26-28 meeting with Europe were Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson.
In all, seven members of the US lineup were on the 2012 squad — Furyk, Johnson, Kuchar, Mickelson, Simpson, Watson and Bradley, who still has his uniform bagged from 2012.
“I would like to come home with a trophy before I open up the bag. I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll take that bag over to Scotland,” Bradley said. “Hopefully we’ll all be able to touch it and get a little redemption.”
Bradley, ranked 23rd in the world, was the 2011 PGA Championship winner, but said the Ryder Cup was like nothing he had felt before.
“It was so emotional,” he said. “I’m not going to hide any emotions. I’m going to let it all go. Sometimes that can make you play great golf.
“The Ryder Cup just has this pull. It can make you do crazy things.”
Mahan, ranked 20th, won the first US PGA playoff event, the Barclays, in suburban New York, last month, to secure his prized spot on the squad.
Captain Watson indicated Mahan would be a stalwart for the squad, saying, “Don’t worry, you are probably going to go five (matches, the maximum).”
“It feels awesome. We have a lot to play for on this team,” Mahan said. “Redemption is going to be a strong word among all the players.
“Losing hangs with you. It bites at you. It lingers. I don’t know if we can make up for it but I know how good it feels to win and I want to give it to those guys from 2012 because I also know how it feels to lose.
“It’s a very lonely feeling. I want to get rid of it for sure.”
Mahan said the rivalry with Europe awakens something within players rarely seen in typical events.
“There’s a lot of respect but there’s a lot of fire too,” he said. “It feels like a little dome around you. Even when you go back to the clubhouse or the room, you are focused on one thing.
“For some reason, the Ryder Cup brings something out of you that you didn’t know you had.”
Simpson had to wait out the decision after Chris Kirk, ranked seven spots ahead of him at 25th, won Monday at Boston.
“I knew it was going to be a difficult decision,” Simpson said. “I knew it would be a long night waiting to hear the news.”
Watson said telling Kirk he did not make the team was “a difficult phone call,” but added, “He took it well. He took it like a man.”
And Watson said he has faith his lineup will defeat the favored European side, which includes four of the world’s five top-ranked players in number one Rory McIlroy, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, Spain’s Sergio Garcia and England’s Justin Rose.
“The European team has been touted as the favorites,” Watson said. “I have a fundamental belief in our team and our players and they have a fundamental belief in themselves.”