Sutton picks Haas and Cink as wild-cards
Jay Haas became the second-oldest player to be on the Ryder Cup team, joining Stewart Cink as the two captain's picks Monday for a U.S. team that will try to regain the cup from Europe next month.
U.S. captain Hal Sutton said he considered five players for his two wild-card selections, but Haas and Cink were never far from his mind.
The 50-year-old Haas, who stayed away from the Champions Tour to try to make his first Ryder Cup team in nine years, was 10th in the standings going into the PGA Championship but closed with a 77 and dropped to No. 12.
"Hal had some small talk and said, 'I'd sure love to have you on the team.' I was kind of waiting for 'But you screwed up today,"' Haas said. "I'm pretty emotional about it. It's something I pointed to for the last couple of years. To have realized that is pretty exciting."
Cink will play on the Ryder Cup team for the second straight time. He was well back in the standings until closing strong at the Buick Open and the International and finishing in a tie for 17th at the PGA to move into 14th place.
"We're four weeks away from determining whether I made the right decision or the wrong decision," Sutton said.
Left off the team were Scott Verplank, a steady player who had an outstanding Ryder Cup at The Belfry two years ago, and Todd Hamilton, whose two victories this year include the British Open.
The matches will be Sept. 17-19 at Oakland Hills outside Detroit, and the U.S. team can no longer be considered the favorite. Europe has won the cup six of the last nine times.
The European team will be determined in two weeks, with captain Bernhard Langer also getting two picks.
Sutton had a good idea who he wanted on his team going into the PGA, but all that changed in a final round when two guys played their way onto the team, and a third -- Justin Leonard -- nearly did.
Leonard could have made the team by winning at Whistling Straits but instead missed six putts inside 12 feet on the back nine and lost in a three-way playoff.
Chris DiMarco, who blew a big lead at the International last week, also got into the playoff with a 71 in the final round and rose from 15th to eighth in the standings to make his first team. Chris Riley missed a 4-foot par putt on the last hole, but he got on the team when Leonard didn't win.
"I said all along, I didn't think it was going to be very difficult," Sutton said. "It became very difficult yesterday. People were very deserving that didn't get to be on the team."
The other eight players who earned a spot on the team were Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, David Toms, Chad Campbell and Fred Funk.
The Americans will have five Ryder Cup rookies, an unusually high number.
Haas was trying to become the oldest man to qualify for the Ryder Cup. Raymond Floyd was 51 when he was a captain's pick in 1993.
To show how long Haas has been around, he played in his first Ryder Cup in 1983, about the time the Americans started to lose its dominance in the biennial matches.
His last experience was one to forget.
The 1995 Ryder Cup came down to his match at Oak Hill against Philip Walton of Ireland. Three down with three holes to play, Haas won the 16th and 17th holes and had a chance to give the United States the half-point it needed until he popped up his tee shot on the final hole, made bogey and Europe walked away with the cup.
Cink made his Ryder Cup debut at The Belfry two years ago, going 1-2-0 and losing his singles match to Thomas Bjorn in another European victory.
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