Ryder Cup drama at The International this week
The strategy players are using to get one of the automatic bids on the US Ryder Cup team is very intriguing. Almost everyone who is close to the final spot is playing this week in hopes of a top finish to garner those rare Ryder Cup points. (As you recall from my previous post, the point system that the US team uses for qualification is dreadful. The only way to get any points is to finish in the top ten of a PGA Tour event, half of which typically goes to non-Americans such as Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, etc. This means that usually about half of the top ten actually earn any of those available points. Dumb, no?)
This week is likely the last chance for those golfers on the borderline to make their move into the top 10. Next week is actually the last week of qualifying for the U.S. team but it is the PGA Championship and all of the best golfers in the world will be in the field, making a top ten extremely difficult. Not so this week at the International where 11 of the top 15 money earners on the PGA Tour are not playing, such as Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Geoff Ogilvy and Vijay Singh. Some of the US hopefuls have to be saying to themselves, “Well, well, well!” Curiously, Brett Wetterich – who currently is in the 10th and final automatic spot – is not playing this week, so he is the target for the hopefuls. Jerry Kelly, Tim Herron and Scott Verplank are close but are not playing until the PGA Championship next week.
So, here’s the deal - already in 8th and 9th places, J. J. Henry and Zach Johnson can get enough points to cement their place on the team by finishing in the top 7 or 8. John Rollins, Lucas Glover, Davis Love III and Fred Couples can climb above Wetterich with a top 5 finish. Tom Pernice Jr. – a past champion of this event - can get into the top 10 with a first or second place performance. Then, there are the longshots. Only with a win would the following golfers get there: Arron Oberholser, Stewart Cink, Brett Quigley, Steve Stricker, Corey Pavin, Kirk Triplett and Billy Andrade. One other man has a chance with a win here this week: the Ryder Cup Captain himself, Tom Lehman. Now wouldn’t that be interesting?
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