EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in O's series of updates on the Ryder Cup held at Gleneagles in Scotland on Sept. 26-28.
The Dust Is Beginning to Settle
As each tournament passes, the 2014 Ryder Cup inches closer by the minute. With that, the teams are coming into greater focus.
The PGA TOUR season is well past the halfway point, and two of the four majors, also known as double-point events, are in the books.
Before we dive into the status of the teams, with most of the attention focused as always on Team USA as it looks following the U.S. Open, it’s worth pointing out comments Tom Watson made ahead of the U.S. Open. The captain for Team USA said before our last update that he would take a healthy Tiger Woods with a captain’s pick. He recently confirmed that is still the case, and went on to say that Phil Mickelson would be all but a lock for a pick if he needed it. Both of those players are outside of the automatic qualifier spots, meaning they would soak up two of Watson’s three picks.
As a refresher, Watson believes, with the help of the PGA of America, that it will take roughly 4600 points to qualify for his squad on merit. We went ahead and declared Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker as locks and said we wouldn’t spend much more time on them until the preview for the actual event once all of the players are known. So that’s all for Watson and Walker.
Two other players have joined the firm of Watson & Walker inside the safety zone:
• Dustin Johnson (4,812.202) – Jumped from fifth to third in the standings with his T4 at the U.S. Open and is now all but officially safe. He ranked sixth when last we checked in and seemed to be a solid bet to make the team but still had work to do. This team is looking very long off the tee, as DJ and Bubba are two of the longest players on the planet and Jimmy Walker isn’t exactly short.
• Matt Kuchar (4,684.187) – He was trending toward a mere formality in our second edition of this piece, and now he’s crossed over into the safety zone. Kuchar brings some versatility to the team and offers Tom Watson a plethora of options in terms of pairings. A true grinder, he’ll be a solid team member.
Masters of Their Domain
If the math is correct, these guys can coast.
• Jordan Spieth (4,422.573) – Short of an injury, it’s nearly impossible to envision the scenario where he doesn’t make his first Ryder Cup team. If, for some surprising reason, he doesn’t make it on merit, he’s an incredibly attractive option for Watson as a captain’s pick. Spieth will bring some serious moxie to the team and should pair well with almost anyone. He'll even be legal by the time hits the air for Gleneagles. The wunderkind will turn 21 on July 27.
• Jim Furyk (4,302.834) – Given his disappointing Ryder Cup record over the years, it’s yet to be determined if his inclusion on the team would be a good or a bad thing for the Yanks, but the reality is that he will likely tee it up at Gleneagles. It seems increasingly logical to think that he must earn his way onto the team via merit, especially given the tipping of the hand that Woods and Mickelson could very well allow Watson just one more selection.
That leaves just three more automatic spots up for grabs.