DJ, Spieth, Lefty, Reed, Walker, Koepka, Sneds and ZJ. These 8 are the automatic qualifiers for this year’s Ryder Cup. The remaining 4 players will be chosen by Captain Davis Love III, 3 of them being after the BMW Championship, and the last one being after The Tour Championship.
Players like Bubba, Holmes, Rickie and Kuchar all couldn’t quite make a final push to make the team. Fowler was in position, in fact, thru about half his round on Sunday, he was 4th place in the standings but by the time he completed his round, he fell to 11th. He needed to finish the day in third place or better but ended the day tied for seventh. Some late bogeys not only derailed his chances at a Ryder Cup spot but also his chance to win as well. Ultimately, Patrick Reed won, capping off a great week. Reed played four solid rounds of golf at one of the most difficult courses in the world. He entered the week on the bubble coming in at spot number 8 in the standings. This win vaulted him up to number 4.
For me, it feels great to know who will be there in Minnesota representing the United States of America. I also can’t wait to find out who the remaining 4 players will be. I love the team we have so far, I can’t really complain about any of the 8 on the team so far. The person who I am not completely sold on is Jimmy Walker. He hasn’t seemed to show up lately besides at the PGA. But honestly, if arguably the weakest player on our team won the last major championship, it can’t really be that bad.
After closer examining the team, I like what I see. Of the 8 guys so far, I see three sort of groups among them.
Young Studs: The players I would include in this group are DJ, Spieth and Reed. These three are some of the games brightest stars and all rank inside the the top 12 in the world after this week. Dustin Johnson has had arguably the best summer of any golfer and has risen to #2 in the world. He also boasts a Ryder Cup winning percentage over .500 in his 7 matches. Jordan Spieth is still one of the best golfers in the world despite his recent “struggles”. He won twice this season alone and hasn’t missed many cuts. He also played incredible in the 2014 Ryder Cup in Wales. Reed rounds out this group as arguably the USA’s most valuable asset. In 2014, he created some of the most memorable moments for Team USA in a long time and wore his emotions on his sleeve, making him a favorite back home while they were competing across the pond. He went 3-0-1. Now, Reed is showing great form which can only make fans excited as we head into September.
Key Vets: Phil, Zach and Brandt are the three I would put in this group. All of them have Ryder Cup experience under their belts. This will be Phil’s 11th Ryder Cup, Zach’s 5th, and Brandt’s 2nd. I can’t imagine a Ryder Cup without Phil. He is a staple in the USA locker room and one of those guys who is vital to a successful team. He is guy who loves to compete and always brings his best stuff out when it is time to represent the stars and stripes. ZJ is guy who is usually not on many peoples radar. He hasn’t won since the British Open last year and isn’t the flashiest player or longest hitter by any means. But he gets the job done consistently, and in his his own way which I feel makes him one of the toughest opponents in match play. That has proven to be the case over the past decade as he has been one of the most successful Ryder Cup players. Snedeker started off the year in fantastic form including a win and a couple of top three finishes.
Wildcards: Koepka and Walker are remaining pair and both are sort of wildcards. You are not very sure what to expect out of them. Brooks Koepka is becoming one of the young stars on the PGA Tour. The 26 year old has really come on the scene this years and has notched several top 10 finishes and played at Baltusrol despite battling an injury. That kind of gutty performance can appeal to many fans. But we have to keep in mind that he hasn’t had any USA team experience in the past and he has been dealing with that ankle injury for awhile now. The other wildcard is Jimmy Walker. Jimmy is experienced, having played in the 2014 Ryder Cup as well as the 2015 Presidents Cup. He is a wildcard for a completely different reason than Koepka. You never know what you are going to get out of him. His last three events highlight this perfectly. He won the PGA Championship and then missed the cut at The Wyndham and T-88th place the week at The Barclays. Before the PGA, I thought he had fell of the face of the planet. He has been very inconsistent since his career year in 2014.
Davis Love III has some tough choices to make in the next few weeks. There are players up and down the rankings that would need to be given consideration and it is tough giving the team right now is filled with both younger and older players. There is only one Ryder Cup rookie, in Koepka, currently on the squad so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him add some youth and swagger. I also would not be surprised to see him add experienced veterans who have played in these kind of moments before, hoping that experience and maturity can lead us past the Europeans, who may have as many as 6 rookies on the team when its all said and done. In the end, these next couple weeks will offer a great stage for anyone to assert themselves and prove why they should be picked to represent the red, white and blue next month.
Stay tuned as we near closer to the Captains Picks as I will highlight my choices and who should be considered by Davis Love III.
GIF via USA Today
Cover photo via USA Ryder Cup on Twitter