Ryder Cup picture evolves at PGA Championship
Tom Watson and his potential first nine charges have only two rounds left to earn enough points to play on the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
At the start of the week the top nine on the points list were Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.
Matt Kuchar withdrew before his first round Thursday and Jason Dufner withdrew after the 10th hole Thursday. Of the remaining seven players, all but Spieth made the cut Friday and will play on the weekend.
PHOTOS: 2014 PGA Championship, Friday
Photos from the second round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
The first five on the points list – Watson, Furyk, Walker, Fowler and Kuchar – were locks to begin with. That left Spieth, Reed, Dufner and Johnson to protect their positions.
Johnson made the first move by making the cut after rounds of 70-72 and will earn at a minimum $17,700 if he finishes last. Since the points are doubled in majors, Johnson will earn at the minimum $35,400 or 35.40 points to leapfrog Dufner into eighth place and leave Dufner ninth, on the bubble.
Of the next 21 players on the list, only nine made the cut. Among them, only No. 10 Phil Mickelson, No. 13 Ryan Moore, No. 26 Bill Haas and No. 29 Ryan Palmer have a realistic chance to make a serious move – they sit at 3 under or better.
Mickelson started the week just 209.382 points behind Dufner, or $104,691. With a 21st-place finish this week worth $106,000, Mickelson would have enough money to pass Dufner.
But sitting in sixth at 6 under and just three shots off the lead of Rory McIlroy at 9 under, Mickelson is in good position to make the team on points – potentially earning much more than the money needed to pass Dufner.
Moore is a little further back of Dufner at 270.848 points, or $135,424. At 3 under for the championship and tied for 17th, Moore would barely pass Dufner if he stayed where he is and earned $148,000.
But for Moore and the others, they have to factor in that Mickelson could set a new and higher bar – then would have to supplant either Johnson or Mickelson to get a spot.
Hass at 26th has the same issue as Moore, but because he is $775,034 behind Dufner, Haas can only earn his way on in points if he finishes second or wins.
Palmer has the opportunity to upset the entire apple cart. Sitting in a tie for fourth just two shots out of the lead of McIlroy, Palmer must win or finish runner-up to earn enough points to potentially get a spot.
Mickelson is the best bet with two rounds to go, but the others are still playing for a spot.
Captain Watson has said he wants a hot player. A high finish this week coupled with some solid play over the next three events could be enough for Watson to pick them.
The picks could get very interesting if Mickelson makes the team on points and Watson doesn’t pick Woods – which after his 6-over finish for the championship and admitted back issues seems uncertain. Then the race is wide open for the last three to make the team.