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T.J.'s Team USA Weekly Analysis: August 6

The 39th Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28-30, 2012, at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.

T.J.'s Team USA Weekly Analysis: August 6

Each week leading up to the matches, PGA.com Interactive Producer T.J. Auclair will provide analysis of the top 20 U.S. players in the latest standings.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
5,727.613 1 1

T.J.'s take: : Seven times in his illustrious career, Tiger Woods has been a winner at Firestone. In the past two seasons at that course for the playing of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Woods had been far from stellar (T78 in 2010, T37 in 2011). Last week was a little closer to the Tiger of old. He didn't win, but with a 4-under 66 in the final round, Woods soared 16 spots up the leaderboard and finished tied for eighth -- his sixth top 10 in 14 Tour starts this year. Already a three-time winner in 2012, can Tiger carry the momentum from Sunday's 66 into this week at Kiawah Island and claim his fifth PGA Championship and 15th major overall?

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Jason Dufner
Jason Dufner
5,593.502 2 3

T.J.'s take: : Around this same time last season, Jason Dufner was a little-known player on the PGA Tour -- a guy who had come close many times, but was never able to close the deal. Then, precisely one year ago at the PGA Championship, Dufner introduced himself and his waggle to the world. Eventually, Dufner would lose in a playoff to Keegan Bradley at Atlanta Athletic Club. However, both their careers suddenly took off. Dufner is arguably the PGA Tour's best, most consistent player this season with two victories already to go along with five other top-10 finishes, including Sunday's seventh-place showing at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Dufner was a surprise contender at the 2011 PGA Championship. If he contends this week, it'll be no surprise at all. He jumped one spot this week to No. 2.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson
5,528.483 3 2

T.J.'s take: : The Masters champion tied for 19th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and dropped one spot in the latest Team USA standings to No. 3. Known for his long-driving prowess, last week was no exception. Watson routinely hits his driver over 300 yards, but he bombed a 442-yard drive on Firestone's 16th hole on Saturday. Think about that for a second... Watson covered nearly 4 1/2 football fields with one shot! That 16th hole at Firestone is a 667-yard par 5. He reached it in two with driver, 8-iron.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley
4,782.206 4 9

T.J.'s take: : Can we just go ahead and acknowledge that Keegan Bradley is a certified superstar? Last year it was nice to see a rookie when his first Tour event at the Byron Nelson Championship. Then, Bradley opened everyone's eyes with his surprise PGA Championship victory. He had been steady throughout 2012, but had no wins to show for his efforts until last week. Bradley made one of the best sand saves you'll ever see from a plugged lie on the 72nd hole of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and then won after watching Jim Furyk make a double bogey. Sure, Furyk threw away an opportunity to win. However, Bradley applied the heat and kept grinding away when it seemed there was no chance Furyk could lose. So now, in less than two full seasons on Tour, Bradley is a three-time winner with a major and a World Golf Championship event among those titles. Bradley's biggest goal for this season was to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team. With Sunday's win, he's pretty much sewn that up, jumping from No. 9 to No. 4. The coolest part about it all is that he heads to Kiawah Island this week not only as the defending champion, but as arguably the hottest player in the field. Who could have forecasted that?.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Webb Simpson
Webb Simpson
4,635.500 5 4

T.J.'s take: : Webb Simpson did not play in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. His wife, Dowd, gave birth to the couple's second child two weeks ago, so he stayed at home. Simpson slipped one spot to No. 5 in the latest standings.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson
4,461.544 6 5

T.J.'s take: : Zach Johnson, who had been red-hot lately with a playoff win at the John Deere Classic and a tie for ninth at the Open Championship, cooled off a bit at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Done in mostly by a 4-over 74 on Sunday, Johnson trickled 19 positions down the leaderboard in the final round to finish in a tie for 40th. He dropped one spot in the latest standings to No. 6.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar
4,448.942 7 6

T.J.'s take: : With a tie for eighth in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Kuchar now has three, top-10 finishes in his last four starts heading into Kiawah Island. Even still, with Bradley's rise this week, Kuchar slipped one spot to No. 7.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
4,163.608 8 7

T.J.'s take: : Phil Mickelson -- it seems -- could leave U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III with a very difficult decision if he's not in the top 8 at the conclusion of the PGA Championship on Sunday. I know, it sounds ridiculous. Mickelson is an eight-time U.S. Ryder Cup Team member and one of the most accomplished players in the game's history. However, though he's had four top-5 finishes including a win this year, it hasn't been a typical Mickelson season. He's either been right in the mix or hardly a contender with very little in between. Mickelson tied for 43rd at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and dropped one spot in the latest standings to No. 8. His last three starts prior to last week look like this: T65 at the U.S. Open; missed cut at Greenbrier; and missed cut at the Open Championship. We all know Mickelson is suffering from psoriatic arthritis and you have to wonder how much of an impact that has had on his game lately. Symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness of joints -- those aren't pleasant for anyone, especially a world-class golfer who relies on feel. If Mickelson can't lock up an automatic spot on the team, would it be wise of Love to use a captain's pick on the long-time U.S. stalwart given the state of his game recently? I don't know. What I do know is that I can't possibly imagine a U.S. Ryder Cup team without Mickelson. 

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Hunter Mahan
Hunter Mahan
4,082.228 9 8

T.J.'s take: : In case you were wondering about how the U.S. Ryder Cup team is shaping up for 2012, look no further than Hunter Mahan at No. 9. The guy is a two-time winner on Tour this season, yet he's on the outside looking in at the moment. I have no doubt that if Mahan fails to make the team on points, he'll be one of Love's captain's picks. He's got to be, right? How can you leave a multiple Tour winner in the same year as a Ryder Cup off the team? Mahan's tie for 55th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational wasn't pretty (three of his four rounds were at 2 over or worse), but he's missed the cut only one time in 2012 and has 11, top-25 finishes overall. He slipped one spot to No. 9 this week.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker
3,563.069 10 13

T.J.'s take: : Thanks to an incredibly impressive 6-under 66 on Sunday and a tie for second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Steve Stricker picked up three spots in the latest Team USA standings, moving from No. 13 to No. 10. Stricker was 2 under at the turn on Sunday before getting really hot on Firestone's back nine, snagging birdies on four of his last five holes for the 64.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk
3,318.116 11 15

T.J.'s take: : Poor Jim Furyk. It seems he can't catch a break lately. First it was the late miscue at Olympic Club that cost him the U.S. Open. On Sunday, it was an ugly double bogey on the 72nd hole that cost him the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The silver-lining is Furyk is putting himself in position to win. He's also a gritty veteran and while losses like these certainly sting, Furyk has the ability to get over them quickly. There is good news -- with his tie for second, Furyk moved four spots in the latest standings and ever closer to the top 8.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler
3,313.338 12 10

T.J.'s take: : Rickie Fowler should leave Firestone proud of himself and with his head held high as he makes his way to Kiawah Island for the PGA Championship. In the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Fowler shot an incredibly uncharacteristic, 10-over 80 (of course, there's no cut at the limited field event, which is why he was around for the weekend) in a crazy round that included a triple-bogey 8. Well out of the tournament at that point, Fowler managed to bear down and post a pair of 1-under 69s on the weekend to tie for 60th. He may have slipped two spots in the latest standings from No. 10 to No. 12, but hats off to Fowler for giving it his all even when there was no chance he could win. Captain Love is already a huge fan of Fowler and his weekend efforts certainly didn't make Love like him any less.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Brandt Snedeker
Brandt Snedeker
3,176.787 13 11

T.J.'s take: : With an ugly 5-over 75 on Sunday, Brandt Snedeker plummeted 19 spots down the leaderboard to finish in a tie for 50th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and lost ground in the Ryder Cup standings too, dropping from No. 11 to No. 13.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
3,002.770 14 12

T.J.'s take: : Dustin Johnson tied for 19th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and dropped two spots in the latest standings from No. 12 to No. 14. If it weren't for early-season injuries and forced time off, you'd think Johnson would be a lock for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. However, the way things stand now, he's going to need to turn it on. Like Fowler, Furyk and Mahan in front of him, Johnson surely has to be one of those guys Love is looking to and telling himself: "Play well, boys and give me a reason to have to pick you if you don't make the team on points."

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Bo Van Pelt
Bo Van Pelt
2,952.981 15 14

T.J.'s take: : Another week and yet another top-10 finish for Bo Van Pelt. Though he tied for eighth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational -- his eighth top-10 of the season -- Van Pelt dropped one spot in the latest standings from No. 14 to No. 15. Based on his play in 2012, however, Van Pelt could certainly be a nice dark-horse pick for Captain Love. He's just so darned consistent.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Bill Haas
Bill Haas
2,460.767 16 17

T.J.'s take: : Bill Haas jumped from No. 17 to No. 16 with a tie for 19th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. It seems Haas's game is coming around in his last three starts, which is a good thing, since he hasn't had any high finishes since winning a playoff at the Northern Trust Open in February.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Robert Garrigus
Robert Garrigus
2,459.247 17 16

T.J.'s take: : Robert Garrigus did not play in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (or the overlapping Reno-Tahoe Open). He dropped one spot this week from No. 16 to No. 17.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Scott Piercy
Scott Piercy
2,379.096 18 18

T.J.'s take: : After winning the Canadian Open two weeks ago to secure a spot in the field at Firestone, Scott Piercy tied for 19th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He remained at No. 18 this week.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Kyle Stanley
Kyle Stanley
2,341.219 19 20

T.J.'s take: : With weekend rounds of 67-68, Kyle Stanley tied for 16th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to improve one position in the latest standings.

PLAYER POINTS THIS WEEK LAST WEEK
Kevin Na
Kevin Na
2,309.783 20 19

T.J.'s take: : Kevin Na tied for 63rd at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He dropped one spot from No. 19 to No. 20 this week.

T.J.'s take: : Kyle Stanley missed the cut at the PGA Championship. He dropped one spot in the final standings from No. 19 to No. 20.

Team USA Qualifying Process

The United States points system will determine the top eight players for the 2012 United States Ryder Cup Team on August 13. In addition, Captain Davis Love III will select four players to complete the United States Team. Points are based upon the following:

  • Prize money earned in the 2011 major championships (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship): One point is awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.

  • Prize money earned in 2012 "Official" events from Jan. 1 through Aug. 12: One point is awarded for every $1,000 earned, excluding the major championships, events played opposite major championships and events played opposite World Golf Championships; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.

  • Prize money earned for the 2012 major championships: (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship). Two points are awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.

  • Prize money earned in 2012 events played opposite the major championships and opposite World Golf Championships events between Jan. 1 and the PGA Championship, which concludes Aug. 12 -- one-half point will be awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.