Ryder Cup: 3 players who could pull a 'Billy Horschel'
Remember two years ago just before the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles when Billy Horschel tore through the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup, winning the season-long prize?
He would have been an ideal candidate for a Captain's Pick by then U.S. Captain Tom Watson, right?
Unfortunately for Horschel -- and especially Watson -- a wildcard pick wasn't an option.
Horschel was a victim of timing. Watson's team had been finalized after the second Playoffs event -- picks and all.
After Horschel finished the Ryder Cup points race at 35th, there's no way Watson could have foreseen the lightning in a bottle he would catch at the tail end of the Tour season. But, boy, wouldn't it have been nice to have a hot-putting Horschel at Gleneagles?
To avoid a similar circumstance, things have been tweaked for 2016 U.S. Captain Davis Love III. Love will make three of his four picks on Sept. 12, followed by his fourth and final pick in the hours after the Tour Championship on Sept. 25.
Unofficially, this change has been called "The Billy Horschel Rule."
With that in mind, we're going to examine three players who are making some noise in the postseason and could find themselves as beneficiaries of the new process. Keep in mind, this list doesn't include those who just missed the top 8. Instead, we're looking at guys who finished the point-getting process outside of the top 20 and have made some noise early on in the FedExCup Playoffs.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Horschel himself needs somewhat of a miracle to pull a "Horschel" this time around. He was projected to finish the BMW at 64th in the FedExCup standings (at the time of this post he was 12 shots off the lead), which would miss the Tour Championship by 34 spots. He needs a solo third at the BMW to sneak inside the top 30. A win at BMW would have Horschel at No. 6 in FedExCup stanidngs going into East Lake.
3. Sean O'Hair
Final Ryder Cup standing: 46
Reason: One week before points closed, O'Hair was actually 79th on the points list. But with a runner-up finish at Barclays, O'Hair managed to soar 33 spots. He followed that with a T53 at Deutsche Bank and was struggling early on this week in the BMW Championship. O'Hair's finish at Barclays was just his second of two top-10 finishes this season and the first since a T10 in early April at the Shell Houston Open. The key at this point in the season is to live to play another week. O'Hair started the week at the BMW Championship ranked 20th in the FedExCup standings. His early projection for tournament's end was 31st, which would leave him one spot outside the required top 30 to qualify for the Tour Championship. The goal of O'Hair if he has Ryder Cup aspirations at this point, is to get to East Lake. You can't impress Love if you aren't playing. Also worth noting: Should O'Hair advance to East Lake, he'd be the first player in FedExCup history to begin the Playoffs outside the top 100 (108 at the Barclays) to play his way into East Lake. That's impressive.
2. Roberto Castro
Final Ryder Cup standing: 45
Reason: Here's a name that probably doesn't jump out at you. But, if Love leans in this direction, it's totally a "this guy got hot at the right time" play. Castro began the FedExCup Playoffs at No. 53 in those rankings and dropped all the way down to No. 64 after a missed cut at the Barclays. Castro jumped back up to No. 53 after a T24 at Deutsche Bank. So far, still nothing overly impressive. But, early on this week at the BMW Championship, Castro was playing out of his mind. Early in the second round, he had a four-shot advantage and -- with a win -- is projected to move to No. 7 in the FedExCup standings (again, still very early). That alone won't be enough to get Castro a spot on the team, but should he pull a Horschel and win the final two Playoffs events, there's a chance he might leave Love with no choice but to pick him.
1. Ryan Moore
Final Ryder Cup standing: 20
Reason: No American player has done more in the last month to make a case for a Captain's Pick than Moore. This whole push started in early August when Moore finished T17 at the Travelers Championship. A week later, he won the John Deere Classic. In the Playoffs, Moore already has two top-10 finishes -- T7 at the Barclays and T8 at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He wasn't playing great early on at the BMW Championship, but the guy probably needs a break. He's played in the last seven consecutive events on Tour. If Moore isn't one of the first three picks for Love on Monday -- which he very well could be -- a solid week at East Lake, where he's already assured a spot, could be enough to push the former U.S. Amateur Champion, two-time U.S. Public Links Champion and NCAA Divison I Champion over the top for the final pick.