Ryder Cup 2016: The Case for Will McGirt as a U.S. Captain’s Pick

September 3, 2016
Ryder Poster_McGirt_960.jpg

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III has a daunting job ahead of him: filling the four spots on his squad reserved for wildcard picks. Who’s on DLIII’s short list? Presumably he already has his favorites — and we have ours. Each day in the run-up to Sept. 12, when Love will announce three of his picks (he won’t name his final pick until Sept. 26, the Monday after the Tour Championship), a GOLF.com staffer will make the case for a player who deserves the nod. Up next, William McGirt. Who do you think belongs on the team? Let us know here.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result, then our Ryder Cup braintrust must have lost its marbles.

Every two years they get their heads together in an effort to concoct an innovative game plan, only to draft a lineup of the usual suspects as their latest can-do captain’s picks. Enough with the madness.

No disrespect to Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Webb Simpson or any of the household names under consideration, but they’ve been there, done that, without much success.

Enough with the madness. It’s time to break the cycle.

It’s time for Davis Love to look past the same-old and select an outlier like William McGirt.

That’s right, McGirt. Rhymes with dirt. He’s got the sort of the grittiness the U.S. needs.

Pedigree? Not really. But so what? In the Ryder Cup, since when has that done anyone a whole lot of good?

Nothing much about McGirt sparkles on the scorecard. At 36, and ranked 17th in the Ryder Cup standings, he’s been around, and around some more. He’s a gut-check journeyman whose career path makes Roy McAvoy’s look like a sponsored cakewalk.

Which makes him exactly what Love should want: a guy who plays like he’s got nothing to lose because he feels like he’s already won.

As for actual winning, McGirt has done some of that, too. This past summer, he claimed his first Tour title at the Memorial, beating Jon Curran in a playoff format that pretty much amounts to (ahem) match-play. But what really resonated were McGirt’s post-victory remarks:

“The guys who don’t seem to appreciate what we have are the guys who never had to play the mini tours,” he said, as tournament host Jack Nicklaus nodded nearby.

McGirt has played the mini tours — the Tar Heel Tour, the Hooters Tours, the Sunshine Tour, you name it. Perks like courtesy cars are gravy to him; he still remembers sleeping in the parking lot.

He first set off on his journey as a young boy growing up in North Carolina, learning to play alongside his grandfather, who was not the sort of man who liked to sit around and wait. Young William had to scramble just to keep up. You could say that he’s been scrapping like that ever since.

Along the way, he’s learned valuable lessons, including one from Tiger, who convinced McGirt to modify his on-course strategy — an improvement that preceded his Memorial Win. That teachable moment took place on a practice green last year, where McGirt was going on aloud about how he didn’t like to scoreboard-watch when he was in contention. Woods overheard him, and got up in McGirt’s grill.

“You’re an idiot,” he said.

McGirt took him to heart. After all, he is no dummy.

Neither, for that matter, is Davis Love, who can further prove his smarts by opting for this grinder as an off-the-board selection.

It’s a plan so crazy, it just might work.