Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14, 2014

Every Monday morning I anxiously await the latest Ryder Cup standings which are distributed by the PGA of America. Captain Tom Watson and I receive this each week. He probably will spend more time looking at the numbers with each passing week leading up to Sunday, August 10 which is the final round of the PGA Championship when the nine automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team will be determined.

On Tuesday, September 2, Watson will be situated somewhere in the Northeast and he will announce three Captain's picks rounding out his squad. No doubt he will spend Labor Day with Andy North and Raymond Floyd watching the final round of the Deutsche Bank Classic and collaborating on who the last three players should be.

Ryder Cup points are based on prize money earned. One point is awarded for every $1,000 earned in the 2013 major championships and all 2014 PGA Tour events beginning with the Fall Season last October. In 2014 the major championships receive two points for every $1,000 earned. Also, this year there are a couple of Tour events opposite the major championships and they earn 1/2 point for every $1,000 earned. It's actually a lot simpler than it sounds.

As of last week's Players Championship here are the top nine U.S. Ryder Cup players and their points earned.

1. Bubba Watson  6,283
2. Jimmy Walker  4,772
3. Matt Kuchar  4,060
4. Jordan Spieth 3,988
5. Jim Furyk  3,909
6. Dustin Johnson 3,781
7. Patrick Reed 3,038
8. Phil Mickelson 2,821
9. Zach Johnson 2,787

Based on the past couple of Ryder Cup teams the projected total needed to make the top nine would be approximately 4,500 points. Watson and Walker have secured spots while Kuchar, Spieth and Furyk are knocking on the door. Dustin Johnson is not far behind which means there will be a lot of scrambling for the last three guaranteed slots on Tom Watson's team.

Rounding out the current top 20 in the Ryder Cup standings are:

10. Jason Dufner  2,692
11. Harris English  2,680
12. Chris Kirk  2,526
13. Ryan Moore  2,334
14. Webb Simpson  2,243
15. Kevin Stadler  2,165
16. Rickie Fowler  2,150
17. Matt Every  2,102
18. Gary Woodland  1,902
19. J.B. Holmes  1,865
20. Keegan Bradley  1,847

Notably missing from the top 20 are Hunter Mahan (25th); Brandt Snedeker (33rd); Steve. Stricker (48th) and Tiger Woods (57th).

It is safe to say at this point that 2014 could be a transitional year for the Ryder Cup when the competition takes place at Gleneagles in Scotland, Sept. 23-28. Currently, there are six Ryder Cup rookies in the top thirteen on the American points list. Europe's team is still unfolding and it looks like there could be 3-4 rookies there, too.

Both Watson and Paul McGinley, the European Captain, could have some tough choices come September. If both teams have a high percentage of rookies making their top nine, will the captains look for experience to round out their teams?

In 1993 at The Belfry, Watson captained the last U.S. Ryder Cup team to win on foreign soil. He had two captain's picks and he used them on Raymond Floyd and Lanny Wadkins who were ranked 22nd and 32nd on points. For sure, Stricker and Woods will be down the 2014 points list based on Stricker's limited playing schedule and Woods' injury. It could be tough choices for Watson.

As I said, the majors count double and three of those remain. Lots of things could change and most likely will. The PGA Championship raised its purse to $10 million dollars with the winner receiving $1.8 and 3,600 Ryder Cup points. That means the PGA Champion could jump from somewhere around 50th to 9th and be an automatic pick. Currently, that brings into play names like Erik Compton, Chesson Hadley, Martin Flores and Indiana's Jeff Overton.

You can follow the standings each week on It will be an interesting three months leading up to the PGA. Bubba Watson proved the value of winning a major and three more Americans could do the same and make moves. But, in the past month or so, the Europeans have been in better form and they are winning some tournaments as evidenced by Germany's Martin Kaymer last week.

Stay tuned. The Ryder Cup drama is just beginning.

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