With the season’s final major being wrapped up, the next important golf event becomes the Ryder Cup. The biannual tilt between the US and Europe has been won by the European team 8 of the last 10 times. Considering the fact that the US almost always has the more superiorly talented team, this trend is stunning, and points to the consistent lack of chemistry that the United States plays with. For those of you that do not now, the top 8 players in points (money earned-double in majors) automatically qualify for the team, while the captain (Davis Love III) makes 4 selections. The players stop earning points after the Barclays Championship, and Davis Love III, makes 3 picks after the BMW Championship, and his final pick after the Tour Championship. Before the PGA Championship, while the standings were tight, it seemed relatively clear that the top 11 players were near-locks, and the 12th spot would go to a player that got hot through the Fedex Cup Playoffs. However, after Jimmy Walker surged from completely out of the picture (29th), to a literal lock (4th), great drama has been added to the race. Now if, Love still wants to save a spot for a hot player in the playoffs, he would be forced to omit a very proven and highly ranked player. Now, there is much less security, and more urgency for players to play events and earn crucial points, in an attempt to qualify automatically. Also interesting is the fact that the players currently right on the bubble (9th-12th) are Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler. These also happen to be the 4 players playing in the Olympics for the US, and therefore forfeiting their ability to gain points at a vital time.
The above photo shows just how tight the standings are for players attempting to automatically qualify. This image does not even show all the players with the potential to make the team. Love could pick a solid veteran Jim Furyk (21st), a strong competitor with the ability to get hot with the flat stick, Kevin Kisner (23rd), or an extremely talented youngster such as Daniel Berger (18th) or Justin Thomas (28th). This does not even include any other player that gets hot at the end of the season such as Jason Dufner (17th), Webb Simpson (25th), Billy Horschel (30th), Robert Streb (31st), or any other random player. This is why this race is so interesting, and the next few weeks are so important. Players on the fringe could cement their status on the team, while others might fall out of favor, and others could come out of nowhere and put themselves on the map. Tis the season, and enjoy the battle!