After a runner-up finish to Bubba Watson in 2018, Kevin Kisner avenged his loss at the Dell World Match Play Championship with a recent victory over Matt Kuchar on Sunday. Kisner was a possible borderline pick for the 2018 Ryder Cup team, but didn’t obtain one of the few captains picks who went to Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Tony Finau. After the win, the talk of social media has been that Kisner is now an “auto-pick” for all U.S. team play competitions, and I’m not sure I buy into it.
No doubt Kevin Kisner was in the discussion for the 2018 Ryder Cup team for his recent match play successes and as well as the course, Le Golf National in France, setting up particularly well for him. Kisner had a subpar tournament year in 2018 that was highlighted by a 2ndplace finish at the Dell Match Play, as well as a T-2 finish at The Open. One could argue that Tony Finau or Phil Mickelson didn’t have particularly great seasons as well, but at that point it’s a toss-up for a final few spots.
Kisner himself came out and said that he didn’t earn his spot on the Ryder Cup team with his play. That he could of made things a lot easier on himself if only he had just played better. Personally, I don’t think you can look back now after Kisner won this year’s Dell Match Play and say, “yes, we should have taken this guy no doubt”, because his play didn’t warrant being taken at the time. As Kisner said, he didn’t EARN it. I believe a Ryder Cup position is earned, not given just because of reputation.
People are quick to forget that the Ryder Cup great Ian Poulter was left off the 2016 European team in the middle of what seems to be his Ryder Cup prime, because his play didn’t warrant a pick. Poulter is a Ryder Cup legend, and few seem to get the fire and ability he does, when he plays for his country in the Ryder Cup. We all have nightmares about what Poulter did to the Americans at Medinah, and just what he is capable of in match play. Yet, despite is past Ryder Cup successes, his spot wasn’t just given.
What about the newcomer, Keegan Bradley. For some, Bradley seemed like the Ryder Cup savior. Bringing a special excitement for the American’s by teaming up with Phil Mickelson in a formidable duo. Bradley seemed to give the Americans the sense of “pride” or “spark” that the team had been missing. In my eyes, someone who truly looked like he enjoyed his time in the USA uniform, and was not taking a second for granted. But even at that, his play didn’t warrant picks in 2016 or 2018 and Bradley was still left off the squad. (0-2 singles record).
There may be other examples out there, but my point is that let’s not be prisoner’s of the moment. I have nothing against Kevin Kisner, and this article is not written to downplay his abilities. I just believe that Ryder Cup and President’s Cup spots are to be earned by a player throughout the selection seasons, and not just handed out.
Kisner is sure to be a shoe-in for the President’s Cup this year, and I look forward to watching him represent the USA. He seemingly is starting to become more of an everyday fan favorite as the spotlight starts to hit him on Tour.