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updated: 9/4/2012 5:08 PM

Does Team USA have the Ryder stuff?

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  • Jim Furyk provides a calm and veteran presence with Team USA in the 2012 Ryder Cup, but columnist Barry Rozner wonders if he has the fire the USA may need to break Europe's dominance in the last 20 years.

    Jim Furyk provides a calm and veteran presence with Team USA in the 2012 Ryder Cup, but columnist Barry Rozner wonders if he has the fire the USA may need to break Europe's dominance in the last 20 years.
    Associated Press


Now, you can truly start the countdown to the Ryder Cup.

The picks are in, the teams have been selected and many of the questions are the same as they've been the last 20 years as Europe has won nine of the last 13 Ryder Cups.

Team USA has loaded up on great putters, which is huge in team play when the pressure is on, but which team will have the better chemistry? Which team will bring the energy, the chip on the shoulder, the camaraderie and all-night parties?

The answers to those questions the last decade or two has mostly been Europe.

"I love my team," captain Davis Love III said Tuesday morning in New York after making his captain's picks. "I think our chemistry will be terrific."

With the pressure on in Boston for the players needing a captain's pick, several came through huge and received word late Monday that they had made the squad.

No one needed a good showing more than Dustin Johnson, who finished 14-under and played his way right onto the team.

His length will be huge for Team USA on a long and open Medinah Country Club course, and if his short game is anything close to the way he played at the Deutsche Bank, Johnson will be a big addition.

"He was hurt early in the year and I think when he couldn't swing he worked on his putting a lot," Love said of Johnson. "I really like where his game is right now."

In addition to Johnson, two other picks were pretty obvious, with frequent Tiger Woods partner Steve Stricker (-8 this weekend) and Brandt Snedeker (-13) securing spots.

Both Stricker and Snedeker are terrific putters, which is crucial in team play, with Snedeker first on the PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting, and Stricker as rock solid as they come.

The fourth pick was not as easy a choice, with Jim Furyk (-8) getting the nod over Hunter Mahan (-3), probably in part because Furyk is so steady and perhaps because this might be the 42-year-old Furyk's last opportunity.

Love did not present that as his final choice, making it sound as though Furyk and Stricker had been on the team all along, but as calm as Furyk is known to be, he's only 8-15-4 in Ryder Cup play and has had two horrific collapses this year.

If Furyk crumbles at the Ryder, this pick will be the one criticized most, especially since Mahan is much younger and enthusiastic, has been on every Ryder and Presidents Cup team since 2007, and beat Rory McIlroy in match play this season.

"We were looking," Love said, "for experience and leadership."

This will be the third Ryder Cup for Stricker, second for Johnson, eighth for Furyk, and Snedeker is a rookie.

Making the team on points were Woods (seventh Ryder Cup), Bubba Watson (second), Jason Dufner (rookie), Keegan Bradley (rookie), Webb Simpson (rookie), Zach Johnson (third), Matt Kuchar (second) and Phil Mickelson (ninth), who had his best finish in Boston (fourth) since the Masters in April.

There's an awful lot of inexperience on this team, though rookies Simpson and Bradley have won majors and Simpson played on the Presidents Cup team that won in Australia last November.

Team USA has four rookies to only one for Europe, but the eight experienced U.S. players have more Ryder Cup matches than all of Team Europe combined.

Still, you also have to wonder if Team USA lacks an edge, the Anthony Kim type who would go up against anyone at any time and make a statement.

Kim came out breathing fire and led off Sunday singles by destroying Sergio Garcia in 2008 at Valhalla (5 and 4), but this Team USA -- outside of Woods -- is incredibly polite, perhaps genteel to a fault.

Europe is loaded with guys such as Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who love to stir it up, and fearless types such as McIlroy.

They will not be affected by the noise at Medinah, the chants of "USA, USA'' from the wild Chicago fans who are sure to bring the volume -- and maybe even some insults.

"Bring it on," Poulter recently told the Golf Channel. "I am so flippin' pumped, I can't even tell you. Let's hear 80,000 guys just causing the biggest amount of electricity on a golf course.

"I want to hear that 'U-S-A!' chant. That fired me up so much."

Poulter is 9-2 in three Ryder Cup appearances and is already taunting Chicago sports fans, ready to feed off the energy the crowd provides.

"Bring it on!" Poulter yelled. "Give me every single piece of it. I cannot wait."

So when Poulter starts trash talking, who brings that edge from Team USA?

Michael Jordan will be inside the ropes, causing a stir and whipping up the crowd.

Stricker is an Illini grad so he'll have huge support in every match.

Johnson pumps the occasional fist.

Woods tends to let his play speak, but if he's on he can take apart anyone and create a roar on a course like no one in history, and Woods really began playing well again when he clobbered Aaron Baddeley at the Presidents Cup in singles (4-and-3) last year in Australia.

Maybe Bradley, who has the stare, will find that side of himself, but as you look at the roster it's fair to wonder if the U.S. has the right temperament to handle the enormous pressure they'll face at the end of September.

The players who haven't been through it may think they know what this is about, but they'll be in for a surprise when they see the crowds and hear the noise.

Yup, the Ryder Cup is a different experience.

And it's only 22 days away.

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

• For more coverage of the Ryder Cup, visit

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