U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton selected Jay Haas, at 50 the second oldest man to participate in the match-play competition, and PGA Tour veteran Stewart Cink as wild-card picks Monday to round out his 12-man team that will face a European squad Sept. 17-19 at Oakland Hills in the Detroit suburbs.
A day after the final 10 automatic spots were somewhat shuffled after the PGA Championship ended, Sutton appeared at a morning news conference after a long night of decision-making and one very tough phone call. "I said all along I didn't think it was going to be difficult," he said, "but it became very difficult. There were some very deserving people who didn't get to be on the team."
The hard call was to Scott Verplank, a captain's choice in 2002 who partnered with Sutton to win one match in Europe's 151/2-to-121/2 victory at The Belfry in England. Verplank finished 16th on the final points list and faded from contention in the PGA when he twisted his ankle Friday. He already entered the competition with a foot injury, and Sutton said that was a major concern.
"Obviously, he was disappointed," Sutton said. "I was worried about his foot problem and his ankle problem. He was one of those deserving people. But they only gave me two spots, and instead of us focusing on who didn't make the team, I would rather focus on the two guys that did."
Sutton's decision got more complicated after two players out of the top 10 going into the PGA -- Chris DiMarco and Chris Riley -- earned enough points Sunday to make the team on their own. DiMarco tied for second with Justin Leonard after both lost in a three-man playoff to champion Vijay Singh.
Riley bogeyed the 72nd hole and finished a shot out of the playoff. He tied for fourth and pushed up to No. 10. Leonard had to win to make the team, but also bogeyed at 18 to force the three-hole aggregate score playoff, won by Singh after a birdie and two pars.
Haas, bumped from 10th to 12th in points, said he was in his car when Sutton called and "obviously I didn't know what to expect . . . Hal and I had a little small talk and then he said, 'We would sure love to have you on the team.' I was kind of waiting for a 'but.' I didn't know what to say. I was emotional about it. It was something I had pointed toward for the last couple of years."
Haas has a 3-4-1 Cup record, including 0-2 in singles. In 1995, in the pivotal match of the tournament, he was three down to Europe's Phillip Price with three holes to play, then won No. 16 and 17 before hitting a poor drive at the 18th and losing the match that allowed Europe to clinch the victory.
Raymond Floyd, who played on the 1993 Cup team when he was 51, is the oldest player in Cup history.
Cink was 1-2 in the 2003 Cup but was 4-0 in the 2003 Presidents Cup in September. He has won this season at Hilton Head, and Sutton said he chose both of his players because of their putting skills, and their ability to close out most tournaments with fine play.
Cink got the call from Sutton back home in Atlanta and said the captain told him, "let's do it. The first thing I said was 'what do you mean, let's do it. Am I on the team?' I was excited when he said, 'I want you on my team.' My wife almost hit her head on the ceiling."
Sutton, like every Cup captain, said he was thrilled with his team, which includes six players who have won multiple major championships, the No. 1 and 4 players in the world in Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and five Cup rookies -- Kenny Perry, Chad Campbell, Fred Funk, DiMarco and Riley. The European team, which has won six of the past nine meetings, will be finalized in two weeks.
Riley's wife, Michelle, is due to give birth to the couple's first child around the time of the Cup, but Sutton said he never spoke to Riley about him possibly not being available. If Riley or anyone else can't play, the 11th man in points, Steve Flesch, will be first alternate.
Riley and Woods grew up in Southern California playing against each other in junior golf. Sutton wouldn't discuss the possibility of pairing them, or anyone else, saying that every member of his team had better be prepared to play with anyone else, and that he expects them all to be "big boys" on any decision he makes.
He also said he expects Woods, 5-8-2 in his three previous Cups, to play well, even if he hasn't won a major championship since the 2002 U.S. Open.
"The world is concerned about Tiger Woods, but I'm not concerned about Tiger at all," Sutton said.