There were two massive American stories at the Barclays, the first of four events in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoff series last weekend.
On one hand, you had Patrick Reed securing his tenuous spot on the Ryder Cup team by actually going out and winning the thing (hmmm, did anyone actually call that? ). On the other, you had Rickie Fowler blowing an excellent shot to clinch his own place with a late Sunday collapse. The results matched their reputations; Reed as the swaggering take-no-prisoners winner, Fowler as the talented-but-delicate star who hasn’t yet shown that he can excel under the sport’s brightest spotlight.
Both of those narratives, true or not, were bolstered on Sunday at Bethpage Black, and both were a huge positive for U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III.
Reed’s inclusion makes his life a whole lot easier. The Barclays champ is not a favorite among his peers, and even though he’s already, at 25, one of the States’ best match-play golfers, it would not have been an easy pick for Love to make.
Chemistry matters at a Ryder Cup, and leaving off a more well-liked player by selecting Reed might have had the dual effect of cooling off the team room and stirring the first embers of opposition among his players. But make no mistake – he wants Reed on that team.
The guy is too good. To have no choice in the matter is, for Love, the best of both worlds. (The same goes for Zach Johnson, by the way, who snuck in ahead of Fowler – he’s a very solid Ryder Cupper, and now Love doesn’t have to use a pick on him.)
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Fowler missing the automatic qualifying is good for Love too. In two Ryder Cups, he’s amassed a Won-Lost-Halved record of 0-3-5 – that’s eight matches without a single win. When you toss this record in with his performances at Majors, (where he finished Top 5 at all 4 in 2014) – it’s hard not to think of him as the near-miss kid. His latest close call gives Love the luxury of seeing how he plays over the next two weeks – and possibly a third, if he wants to hold out for that final pick – before deciding if he’ll get a captain’s pick.
My guess is that Love will toss him a pick as Fowler could still be a huge asset to the team, and but now he has to really earn it. After losing on Sunday, he reportedly told Reed that he was going to take care of business, and that he’d see him in Minnesota. Now he has the chance to prove it, and Love can sit back and observe what he can do under a new kind of pressure.
His mission starts this week at the Deutsche Bank, and he’s not alone. At least seven other players have a very legitimate shot at a captain’s pick – three of them will be selected in two weeks, after the BMW Championship, and another will be picked a week later following the Tour Championship. If any of those can have a spectacular weekend in Massachusetts, they’ll force Love’s hand. Here’s four Ryder Cup hopefuls and others who could make a big splash at the Deutsche Bank.
His last seven finishing figures at the Deutsche Bank reads 9, 29, 4, 35, 25, 11, 15 which has always been played at the same course @ TPC Boston. He is good here – sometimes really good – and now he’s fighting hard for a Ryder Cup captain’s pick. He’s also had a very nice summer, with six top 10s and an Olympic bronze medal. History, form, and motivation are all on his side, and I’d be a little surprised if he didn’t crack the top 10 this weekend.
It wouldn’t be a Ryder Cup without a red-hot Jim Furyk captain’s pick debate. Nobody splits the American golf world quite like Furyk every two years. Some think his woeful lifetime record means he shouldn’t get a selection no matter what, while some think that record isn’t representative, and that Love should go with the hot hand.
There are very solid arguments to be made both ways – his Cup record really is miserable, and he really is red-hot coming into Hazeltine. Also, facts are facts: If he hadn’t been injured, he’d easily have made the team. Furyk could make it easy on everyone by tanking these last three weeks, but Furyk never makes it easy around Ryder Cup time.
He’s one of the best golfers in the world at this exact moment, and you can almost guarantee he’s going to have a big week at TPC Boston.
Thomas is on the very periphery of Ryder Cup discussion, ie, he has no chance unless he does something spectacular – but I still get the sense that he was one big event left in him before the season ends.
He’s best known for being Jordan Spieth’s friend at the moment, but he doesn’t get enough credit for being a really steady golfer at a really young age.
He’s eighth in the FedExCup standings right now, and he finished 10th at the Barclays a couple of weeks after a T-3 at the Travelers. His form is solid, and if he can turn heads in Boston, he’ll put himself in the discussion for that final captain’s pick.
There’s always going to be one guy you don’t expect who does really well at a play-off event. Last week, it was Sean O’Hair, who came a shot away from tying Reed and jumped about 90 spots in the standings. It’s a bit of a crap-shoot to identify that person in advance, but I’ve got a feeling about Chris Kirk this week.
He won here two years ago, and he’s had one of those feast-or-famine type seasons where he’s either getting cut or finishing pretty well. At these odds, it’s worth taking a risk to see if he’ll put up some very low numbers and elevate himself into the top 30.