Line forms early for Ryder Cup tournament
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Let’s see. It’s January, the PGA Show is in town, Tiger and Phil rejoin the PGA Tour fray this week at Torrey Pines, and we’re thinking … Ryder Cup? Already? You bet we are. Believe it or not, the Farmers Insurance Open marks the 10th event of the season, and players already are making hay trying to earn spots on Captain Tom Watson’s U.S. side. Jimmy Walker, Ryder Cupper? Get used to the sound of it.
“It is a goal,” the long-hitting Texan tells The Forecaddie.
With two victories in the wraparound season, he sits atop the points table, and he already is more than halfway to the total it took to earn the last automatic spot on the ’12 squad (with six additional fall ’13 events, this year’s numbers should increase slightly).
Two years ago, Hunter Mahan won twice early (WGC Match Play, Shell Houston Open) but had only one top 10 before the points closed and was left on the outside looking in. But considering the hot starts of Walker and Zach Johnson (three victories, including Tiger’s event, since mid-September), it’s hard to envision either player not being at Gleneagles. Tiger and Phil are locks, so suddenly, there are a whole lot of players vying for five automatic spots (Watson will have three picks, one fewer than the last three captains).
Hot-diggity. That’s a real shootout. Johnson told The Man Out Front that it would be an honor to play for Watson. Then again, as fierce of a competitor as he is, he’d show up if The Forecaddie were setting the lineup.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Johnson, whose tie for third at Humana was his third top-8 finish in January. “I mean, I want to be on the Ryder Cup team regardless of who’s captain, regardless of where it is, regardless if we’ve won four in a row or lost four in a row.”
And Captain Tom, for his part, certainly loves Zach’s thinking. Speaking to NBC’s Mark Rolfing in Hawaii last weekend, Watson said: “Zach, I’ve said a number of times, he has the heart that you want in a player on the Ryder Cup team.”
The biggest difference Watson notes in captaining 20 years apart? Interest. He hears one inquiry incessantly: “What are we going to do to win again?” Months away from the first shot. Increased interest.
Count us in.