Eight U.S. players finished writing their own tickets to the Ryder Cup with their play. Now it is up to captain Davis Love III to choose four more to join Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson in the anxious hope that they finally can beat Europe.
The Barclays Sunday was the cutoff to automatically qualify for the American squad on a points accumulated over the past two years. Reed, who won the FedExCup playoff tournament, wrapped up his spot. So did Zach Johnson, who tied for 48th and left Bethpage doubting that his point total was going to be enough.
At the time Johnson finished his round, Rickie Fowler had not yet started. The latter was leading the tournament and seemed headed for a top-three finish, which would have guaranteed him a place among the top eight on the Ryder Cup list and a trip next month to Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. But Fowler faltered on the back nine and finished tied for seventh.
So what Johnson said to reporters now applies to Fowler, Bubba Watson and others who need the nod from the captain.
“It’s not ideal. You don’t want to have to get that phone call either way,” said Zach Johnson, who finished in the eighth spot (seven behind Dustin Johnson). “You want it to go the positive way . . . You’re talking about Davis Love, too. He’s the captain again for a reason and he’s one of my very good friends. He’s going to do what’s best for the American team.”
Fowler, who is 11th on the points list, said he was more upset over having let the tournament slip away because, he added, having won it, “Would have taken care of both.”
Love will choose three players on Sept. 11 and make one last pick on Sept. 25, days before the competition begins, to allow space for someone who gets hot during the PGA Tour’s four-week playoffs.
Watson, ninth in points, said, “It’s one of those things where if you don’t play good enough, you can’t get mad at it. I can’t get mad at anything. I tried to make the team like everybody else and I didn’t make it. If I don’t get picked, then I’ve got a week off.”
J.B. Holmes is 10th in points and Olympic bronze medalist Matt Kuchar is 12th. Another possible pick is Jim Furyk, an assistant captain who missed much of the season with an injury but has played well lately (shooting a PGA Tour record 58 at the Travelers Championship this month) and is 15th.
Mickelson, an influential figure in a task force assembled after the United States lost for the fifth time in the past six Ryder Cups, said, “I think the picks are going to be dependent upon how they fit into our four-man [intra-team] groups, to be the most effective and give us the most options to play with.”