NEW YORK - United States captain Tom Watson opted for a blend of experience and form in choosing Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for this month's Ryder Cup against holders Europe.
Watson announced Bradley, Mahan and Simpson, all of them former Ryder Cup players, as his three selections during a glitzy news conference at Studio 8H, the home of 'Saturday Night Live', at Rockefeller Plaza.
The trio join automatic choices Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson on the 12-man American team.
"There were several people in the mix for my three picks," Watson said after announcing his selections. "A lot of players are starting to play well from the American side and that's a good thing. We are going to need it.
"The Europeans, on paper, have been touted as being the favourites and we are the underdogs but I have a fundamental belief in my team."
The U.S. will be bidding to end a run of seven losses against Europe in the last nine editions of the Ryder Cup, and their first victory on foreign soil since 1993, when Watson was team captain at The Belfry in England.
Bradley, 28, has won three times on the PGA Tour, including a first major crown at the 2011 PGA Championship, and was undefeated in Ryder Cup team play as a rookie after being paired with Phil Mickelson at Medinah two years ago.
Mahan, 32, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Valhalla in 2008, missed out on selection in 2012 but returns to the team for a third time after winning his sixth PGA Tour title at The Barclays just nine days ago.
Simpson, 29, has won four times on the PGA Tour, including the 2012 U.S. Open, and also made his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah. A rock-steady player, he has recorded two top-10s in his last three PGA Tour starts.
Among the players to miss out on a wildcard pick were 2012 FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker and Chris Kirk, who made a late bid for selection by winning the elite Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachussetts on Monday.
The U.S. will take on Paul McGinley's European team in the 40th edition of the biennial competition from Sept. 26-28 at Gleneagles in Scotland.
(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)