A win in June and top-four finishes in each of the opening two FedExCup playoff events in the past two weeks convinced U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III that Dustin Johnson would be a valuable asset to the team.
The Coastal Carolina University alum and former Myrtle Beach resident was one of four players selected by Love on Tuesday to complete the 12-man team.
Love also selected Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Brandt Snedeker for the matches, being played Sept. 28-30 at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. The European side, which was finalized last Monday, won in Wales in 2010.
Johnson tied for third at The Barclays two weeks ago and shared fourth Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He won the St. Jude Classic in his second tournament back after a nearly three-month layoff because of a back injury and tied for ninth at the British Open.
“I thought I did enough,” Johnson said. “Obviously, you know, being off during the year puts you a step back, but all of the events I’ve played in this year I’ve played really well, I’ve played solid, so I think I made my case pretty strong.”
Johnson is among the game’s longest hitters, and his length will be an asset at the long and open Medinah. “This guy is probably the best athlete on the team, he’s perfect for Medinah,” Love said. “… That is a big ballpark, and it’s perfect for us. I love Dustin Johnson on that golf course and I love really our whole team on that golf course because we have a great driving team.”
Love also likes the way Johnson has been putting this year. He’s 52nd on tour in the category of strokes gained through putting. “Dustin came back putting very, very well,” Love said. “He was hurt; couldn’t hit a lot of balls, but I think he putted a lot. He’s putted great since he came back at Memorial.”
Johnson hasn’t performed well in his previous pro international matches. He went 1-3 in his first Ryder Cup appearance in Wales two years ago, and was 1-3-1 last year in his first Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.
“Obviously I’m very excited to be on the team. I’m really looking forward to this. I really think I can help,” Johnson said. “… I’ve played The Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup both away, so I’m really looking forward to playing one on U.S. soil.”
Snedeker was the only rookie chosen by Love on Tuesday. Much like Johnson, his run late in the year solidified his spot. After his own return from injury, Snedeker tied for third at the Open Championship, took second two weeks ago and sixth on Monday.
Snedeker’s biggest asset is the flat stick. He ranks No. 1 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained through putting.
“They both have come back from injury. They both came back right at big tournament time,” Love said of Johnson and Snedeker. “You can’t argue with the golf Brandt and Dustin have been playing. These two guys, with the pressure on them, have played very, very well.”
Love’s four selections join Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Masters champion Bubba Watson, U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley and Zach Johnson. That group of eight made the team automatically on points after the PGA Championship three weeks ago.
Among those snubbed on Tuesday were two-time winner this season, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, who won The Barclays two weeks ago, Wells Fargo Championship winner Rickie Fowler and Bo Van Pelt.
“It was tough to leave anybody off,” said Love. “There was a lot of guys who played a lot of good golf.”
Stricker seemed like the easiest choice on Tuesday. He will play his third consecutive Ryder Cup and has amassed a 3-3-1 record. Stricker won this year’s season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions and is the 10th-ranked player in the world.
Another factor that had to play in Love’s mind with respect to Stricker is his partnership with Woods. The two have combined for a 5-2-1 mark as teammates in both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
“Tiger/Stricker has worked pretty well," said Love. "They would continue to be a team we’re certainly going to look at.”
Furyk may have been the most questionable of Love’s choices.
Despite playing seven previous Ryder Cups, Furyk, who has fallen to 30th in the world rankings, has not won on tour since the 2010 Tour Championship. That win spurred him on to the FedExCup title and he was in position to win both this year’s U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but squandered leads late on Sunday.
Furyk has a less than stellar 8-15-3 record in his previous seven Cup appearances, but is 4-1-2 in singles. He barely made the 2011 Presidents Cup squad, then went 5-0 at Royal Melbourne.
The European side consists of world No. 1 and winner of Monday’s Deutsche Bank Championship Rory McIlroy, world No. 2 Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie and Francesco Molinari.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal tabbed Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts to round out his side.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284. The Sports Network contributed to this article.