Delicious Ryder Cup subplots to Mickelson's PGA Championship quest
Most of the golfing world will be watching the 2006 PGA Championship to see if anyone can stop the Tiger Train, particularly one Phil Mickelson. If he can, Mickelson would likely win Player of the Year for the first time ever. It’s kind of stunning, really, that a player who has won 29 tournaments (and counting) by age 36 has never been POY. Such is Phil’s lot in life, to be playing during the Tiger era. Not that we feel sorry for him. Billy Casper suffered a similar fate at the hands of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
But in many ways, the more interesting drama will involve the finalization of the 10 automatic spots on US Ryder Cup team. Because of the new point system (which has its flaws) it is mathematically possible that half of the team could change from the current standings going into this, the final week of qualifying. What is more likely to happen, however, is that 1 or 2 players will get knocked off the team. Chris DiMarco, Vaughn Taylor and JJ Henry look to be relatively safe at numbers 6th-8th on the list. It is Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich in the 9th and 10th spots that have bull’s-eyes on their back.
Every Major Championship has a few surprises in the top ten, which is the only way to garner additional Ryder Cup points. This week will likely be no different. A surprise winner could vault from as low as 105th place to a spot on the team. Does the name John Daly ring a bell? How about Shaun Micheel or Rich Beem?
The possible variations are too many to list just now, so check in here for updates as we follow this tournament within a tournament every day.
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Tiger & Phil will be challenged to not get wrapped up in beating each other and focus on playing the course. Don't be surprised if Ogilvy outplays both of them. He's still underrated.
I think the leaders will play those par threes conservatively on the first 2 days. But look out on the weekend as the noose tightens. I suspect there will be some swimming on Sunday.
Another quad on 17, thus killing his chances for a top ten and more Ryder Cup points. Currently in 10th place, he will be chewing his nails while watching on Sunday to see if anyone passes him. And at the end of the first day, many are in position to do just that.
The Ryder Cup plot got simplified yesterday by the lack of surprise performers. The top of the leaderboard is nearly a who's who of golf. Only Brett Wetterich is now in serious jeopardy of getting knocked out of an automatic bid. If Tim Herron (currently tied for 8th) finishes in a 2 way tie for 7th or better, he's on the Ryder Cup team. Zach Johnson could get knocked out too, but only if Davis Love has a really good round and he AND Herron finish in a 2 way tie for 7th or better.
NOW ON MIRACLE WATCH: Woody Austin and Steve Stricker would have to shoot something around the course record to finish 3rd or better and have a chance of getting in.
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