American dream closer to reality as Medinah on the horizon
By Charlie Mulqueen, Talking Golf
With the top two spots on the leaderboard held by a South African and an Australian, the British Open provided considerable food for thought for the rival Ryder Cup captains Davis Love III and Jose-Maria Olazabal.
Love will know eight of his 12 players after the US PGA Championship on August 12 and will dwell on his four wildcard picks before finalising his decision for the Medinah showdown, from September 28 to 30. It will be a fortnight later before Olazabal adds his two selections to the leading 10 who have claimed the automatic places after the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on August 26.
Of the two men, it is difficult to escape the feeling that Love is currently in the happier position. That was far from the case earlier in the year when Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Luke Donald were winning on the US PGA Tour and Lee Westwood, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Graeme McDowell were producing some outstanding performances.
Since the Masters at Augusta in April, however, the tide has turned significantly where few of the many Europeans at the top of the world rankings failed to make an impression. It was more of the same when Webb Simpson prevailed in the US Open at the Olympic Club.
While the American contingent fared a whole lot better at Lytham over the weekend, Europeans Rose, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia, all within the top 10, missed the cut. Rory McIlroy, leader of the points list, tied for 60th. Westwood shared 45th. Molinari and Lawrie were among those locked together in 34th place. Peter Hanson came in 22nd. Donald was never in with a realistic chance of winning but plodded away until eventually tying McDowell for fifth.
From an American aspect, Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker shared third; Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson tied for ninth, Hunter Mahan for 19th, Steve Stricker for 23rd and Jason Dufner for 31st. The only American of note to miss the cut was Phil Mickelson.
Significantly, too, Watson, Dufner, Woods, Simpson, Zach and Dustin Johnson, Mickelson, Kuchar, Mahan, Fowler and Stricker have all won at least once on the US circuit this year. Indeed, such is the depth in the US points list that Keegan Bradley, Fowler, Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Stricker and Jim Furyk would all need a wildcard pick from captain Love.
Pádraig Harrington will need to win the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in three weeks to feature for a seventh successive match. There was an outside chance he might claim one of the wildcard picks with recent form but a lowly 43rd at the Open was a blow.
He still remains outside the top 50 in the world rankings (60th) and misses out on the Bridgestone World Championship on Thursday. Instead, he plans to take in the low key Reno-Tahoe event to remain competitive in the build-up to the PGA Championship.
It’s an event he captured in dramatic fashion in 2008 while he will also derive considerable encouragement from the fact it was over the Ocean Course at Kiawah in 1997 that he and Paul McGinley captured the World Cup of Golf for Ireland.
POSSIBLE RYDER CUP TEAMS:
USA: T Woods, B Watson, J Dufner, W Simpson, Z Johnson, M Kuchar, P Mickelson, H Mahan, R Fowler, D Johnson, S Stricker, J Furyk.
Europe: R McIlroy, J Rose, P Lawrie, F Molinari, G McDowell, L Donald, L Westwood, M Kaymer, P Hanson, S Garcia, I Poulter, N Colsaerts.
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