Ryder Cup update: Post Barclays
With the first event of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup -- The Barclays -- in the books, T.J. Auclair takes a look at how a few potential U.S. Captain's Picks performed, as well as the nine players already on the U.S. squad.
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson had to like what he saw over the weekend at Ridgewood Country Club in the Barclays -- the first event of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup.
First of all, Hunter Mahan made a serious case for a Captain's Pick consideration on Sept. 2. Winless since the 2012 Shell Houston Open, Mahan broke through for a timely victory at the Barclays. With five birdies in a seven-hole stretch (Nos. 11-17), Mahan could afford the bogey he made on the closing hole, as he marched to a two-stroke victory over the threesome of Stuart Appleby, Cameron Tringale and Jason Day.
In his most recent Captain's Blog, Watson made crystal clear exactly what those hoping for a Captain's Pick would need to do over the next few weeks: "I've laid down the gauntlet for those who want to be on the team: Play well and I'll give you a look. Don't play well and I won't."
Mahan should certainly get a good look now. Since missing the cut at the RBC-Canadian Open, his next three starts resulted in a T15 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, a T7 at the PGA Championship (his seventh top-10 finish in a major) and Sunday's win at the Barclays.
That's a guy who's playing well. Along with the solid play, Mahan is also a two-time Ryder Cup participant. He was on the winning U.S. side in 2008 and also on the losing squad in 2010. With a 3-2-3 overall record in Ryder Cup matches, Mahan also brings a rare winning percentage that not many U.S. players can boast in recent years.
One more note on Mahan -- if you remember, he finished No. 9 in the U.S. standings in 2012. At the time, only the top 8 players received an automatic spot on the team and the Captain (Davis Love III) had four Captain's Picks.
Despite winning twice that season, Mahan did not receive one of Love's four picks. Let's just say we could be looking at a very motivated player right now.
Three players whose names have been floated around as potential Captain's Picks left something to be desired over the weekend.
Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson each missed the cut, while Keegan Bradley finished in a tie for 53rd.
Now, let's take a look at the players who automatically qualified (in order from their final standing) and how they performed at the Barclays (click on the player's name to view his Ryder Cup profile page):
1. Bubba Watson -- T30
2. Rickie Fowler -- T9
3. Jim Furyk -- 8th
4. Jimmy Walker -- Missed Cut
5. Phil Mickelson -- Made Cut, Did Not Finish
6. Matt Kuchar -- T5
7. Jordan Spieth -- T22
8. Patrick Reed -- T9
9. Zach Johnson -- T22
Four of the nine automatics finishing in the top 10 at the Barclays has to have Watson feeling pretty good at this point -- especially Kuchar's T5. The Barclays was Kuchar's first start since withdrawing from the PGA Championship due to a back injury.
Now all eyes will be on TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which begins on Friday. This is the final event on the PGA Tour before Watson finalizes his team next Tuesday evening in New York City.