Kuchar cracks top 10 in latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings
Matt Kuchar was the runner-up to Australia's Matt Jones in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open on Sunday, but picked up enough Ryder Cup points to move from No. 19 to No. 10 for the biggest move in the top-20 of the latest U.S. standings.
Kuchar had to be a little disappointed to not come away with the win. He began the final round at Golf Club of Houston with a four-shot advantage over his closest pursuer -- Sergio Garcia -- and was six ahead of Jones.
Here's a look at the current top 12 (remember, the top nine after the PGA Championship in August automatically qualify, while U.S. Captain Tom Watson fills out the team with three captain's picks):
1. Jimmy Walker
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Bubba Watson
5. Jason Dufner
6. Phil Mickelson
7. Harris English
8. Zach Johnson
9. Webb Simpson
10. Matt Kuchar
11. Ryan Moore
12. Chris Kirk
Bogeys on two of his final three holes in regulation proved costly for Kuchar, who wound up with an even-par 72. Jones, meanwhile, finished with a 66 to tie Kuchar through 72 holes before taking him down in the playoff with a remarkable chip-in for birdie on the first hole of sudden-death.
Despite the difficult defeat, Kuchar looks to be trending in the right direction. It was the second week in a row in which he recorded a top-4 finish, which bodes well heading into this week's Masters.
Phil Mickelson tied for 12th in Houston and, in so doing, managed to jump two positions in the latest standings from No. 8 to No. 6. That sent Harris English down to No. 7 (previously No. 6) and Zach Johnson to No. 8 (previously No. 7).
There wasn't any other significant movement, except for Ryan Palmer who got into the top 20 thanks to his tie for seventh.
The U.S. Ryder Cup team standings could look dramatically different come this time next week. Points are worth double at the Masters and each of the other three 2014 major championships.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.