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It's no surprise as Tiger Woods makes Ryder Cup team

Corey Pavin also selects rookie Rickie Fowler, along with major winners Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink.

September 07, 2010

Tiger Woods turned out to be the easy selection. Nor did U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin shake the tree very much by inviting former major champions Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson to Wales.

The dice roll came when Pavin picked the rookie.

Not a Ryder Cup rookie. A PGA Tour rookie.

Rickie Fowler, still a week short of marking his first anniversary as a professional, grabbed a slice of history Tuesday when Pavin handed him the final roster spot for next month's matches.

"It was awesome to be selected," Fowler said via telephone hookup after Pavin announced his selections at the New York Stock Exchange. "Being a young player, it's a pretty special opportunity."

Fowler, 21, becomes the first PGA Tour rookie to make a Ryder Cup squad. He's also the first American wild card to take a berth before winning a pro tournament. But he was a dominator in the Walker Cup, the Ryder's amateur sibling, where Fowler went 4-0 last year.

"I have a gut feeling about Rickie," Pavin said. "He has a good Walker Cup record — 7-1 [in two appearances]. He's a very good player. There's a lot of good players that I looked at, but that's the way I went."

The 38th Ryder Cup will be contested Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor.

Woods was thrown into the wild-card pool after a tumultuous season that started three months late in the aftermath of a sex scandal. He placed fourth upon his return at the Masters, but added just one other top-10 finish this year.

He wound up 12th when the U.S. points chase ended after the PGA Championship, four spots below the eight automatic qualifiers.

"Whether I was a person who was picked or a person who earned their way onto the squad, it doesn't change the overall goal," said Woods, a member of one winning Ryder Cup squad in five appearances.

"It's still the same, and that's to go over there and win."

The first eight roster spots were claimed by Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan and Ryder rookies Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar.

Left out was Charley Hoffman, whose win at the Deutsche Bank Championship stamped him as a late candidate and perhaps the hottest player available.

Hoffman played his way onto the radar with four top-10 finishes in his past six starts — equal to Woods' and Johnson's combined season total. Monday's victory provided a finishing flourish, with 11 birdies in a 62 that turned a four-shot deficit into a five-stroke triumph.

"I wish I could make 11 birdies in a round like that," Pavin said. "We certainly looked at him, as we looked at a lot of other players."

jshain@orlandosentinel.com

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