Watson under pressure over picks

American Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson has been criticised for leaving Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel out of the team that will take on Europe at Gleneagles later this month.

Kirk and Horschel were overlooked by Watson when he named his three wild cards last week; just days after Kirk won the Deutsche Bank Championship ahead of Horschel.

After his second place finish in Boston, Horschel went on to win the BMW Championship in Denver on Sunday.

In the FedEx Cup standings, ahead of this week’s Tour Championship at East Lake, Kirk is currently in first place on the standings, with Horschel a close second.

Those two, along with Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan – third, fourth and fifth in the standings respectively – are the only players who could be crowned FedEx champion should they win the tournament.

Mahan was justifiably picked as one of Watson’s wild cards, but Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson were far more contentious selections.

Bradley did not make the top 30 players who qualified for this week’s event while Webb Simpson is 22nd after finishing 53rd last week.

According to Paul Azinger – the only US captain to lead the American team to victory in the team tournament this century – those selections might come back to haunt Watson.

“I would have selected Chris, certainly,” Azinger said.

“Webb’s a good player but I think it would have been easier to pick Chris than not to pick Chris. He’s won twice this year. He is hot and I like hot players.”

Azinger isn’t the only respected American who is concerned about Watson’s selection, with two-time major winner Johnny Miller expressing his apprehension.

“The Ryder Cup is getting desperate for the United States,” Miller said.

“Tom Watson is going to have to pull out a rabbit out of the hat.”

Watson had previously stated that he prefers to make his selections based on form rather than reputation, but his hand was somewhat forced having to make his final selections before the FedEx Cup was completely.

Despite being overlooked, Horschel was philosophical about his omission.

“I’m sure Tom Watson isn’t kicking himself for not picking me,” he said.

“I’m sure he wants to kick me for not playing well sooner.”