Five U.S. Ryder Cup Team hopefuls to keep an eye on
Players hoping to play their way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup Team earned an additional year of qualifying time with the event being postponed from September 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19. In addition to extending the qualifying period, the way in which the team will come together for the matches at Whistling Straits has also been modified during this unprecedented time. Previously, the top eight players in the U.S. Ryder Cup point standings would earn an automatic spot on the team with the four remaining positions on the squad being filled by Captain’s Selection. For the matches being played in 2021, the top six players in the point standings will automatically qualify and the remaining six spots on the team will be named by Captain Steve Stricker. Here are five players hoping the additional year will give them enough time to play their way onto the team or at least catch the attention of Captain Stricker.
Standings are as of September 21, 2020
Current Position in Ryder Cup Point Standings: 11
Matthew Wolff deserved to be on the Ryder Cup radar long before his runner-up finish at the U.S. Open. Wolff turned professional in 2019 and won in short order, capturing his first victory in just his fourth start on Tour at the 3M Open and he added two more top 10s last season.
In just his second major start, he held the 54-hole lead at Winged Foot before struggling to a final round 75 to settle for a second-place finish. While the 21-year-old isn’t old enough to remember the incredible comeback by the U.S. Team in 1999 at Brookline Country Club, Wolff was just five months old, he could be playing alongside some of the stars that helped win back the Cup for the Americans.
Current Position in Ryder Cup Point Standings: 15
One of those stars on the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup Team was Tiger Woods. It was one of eight appearances by Woods in the Ryder Cup, who missed playing the 2008, 2014 and 2016 matches. While some players have spoken openly about not wanting to rely on a Captain’s Selection and hope to qualify on their own, Woods has shown he is has no problem relying on a pick, he twice was picked for the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2010 and 2018. Woods, the captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup Team in 2019, even picked himself for the team.
Current Position in Ryder Cup Point Standings: 20
A two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, Scottie Scheffler earned his way onto the PGA Tour and has become a leaderboard fixture in his rookie season. Scheffler has seven top 10s since joining the Tour, including a T4 at the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. He had to withdraw prior to the start of the U.S. Open after testing positive for COVID-19 but was asymptomatic. Scheffler, who is from Dallas and attended the University of Texas, has twice represented the U.S. as a member of the Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy. He also joined Jordan Spieth as the only other player in Texas to win three individual state titles.
Current Position in Ryder Cup Point Standings: 27
Rickie Fowler has become a regular on the U.S. Ryder Cup Team but he will need to make up some ground over the next year if he hopes to make his fifth team. Fowler, who has recorded just two top 10s over the last year, relied on a Captain’s Selection in both 2010 and 2016.
Current Position in Ryder Cup Point Standings: 29
Phil Mickelson already owns the record for the most Ryder Cup appearances at 12 dating back to 1995 but he’s made it clear he’s hoping to make it a record 13 in 2021. Mickelson qualified for every single year except 2018. At the beginning of 2018, he was open about his goal for the year in wanting to earn his way onto the team and doesn’t want to rely on Captain Steve Stricker to pick him for the team.