Ryder Cup: All eyes on bubble boys at the Barclays
This may come as a bit of surprise -- especially given his propensity to make putting look easy -- but Brandt Snedeker has only played on one Ryder Cup USA team. That was in 2012 at Medinah under then Captain Davis Love III, who also happens to be the 2016 Captain for the matches at Hazeltine National.
On Sunday, with a tie for third in the Wyndham Championship, Snedeker went a long way toward clinching a second Ryder Cup appearance.
With the T3, Snedeker snagged the No. 6 spot in the coveted top 8 -- up three spots from No. 9. It was a crucial week for Snedeker, seeing as Ryder Cup USA points close for the top 8 spots at the conclusion of this Sunday's Barclays at Bethpage Black.
Snedeker didn't guarantee himself a spot on the team just yet, but he did put himself in a position to control his own destiny with a solid week in the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup opener.
Snedeker was the only player to play his way into the top 8 at the Wyndham Championship.
Patrick Reed will begin the week in that uncomfortable No. 8 spot in the points standings. He's coming off a T22 at the Wyndham Championship, which broke up a streak of four consecutive starts (including the Olympics) where he finished no worse than T13.
If an American wins this week's Barclays, he will collect 1,485 points for the effort, which means a lot of guys currently outside the top 8, but inside the top 20, still have a chance to play their way onto the team (with some needing more help than others, obviously).
Here are the five bubble players to watch this week at the Barclays:
1. J.B. Holmes
Current rank: 9
Reason to watch: Holmes has hovered around the top 10 for the last several weeks, thanks largely to the third-place finish in the Open Championship (along with a T4 earlier this year at the Masters, where with events awarded double points). He slipped out of the top-8 in the standings, dropping from No. 7 to No. 9 following a missed cut at the Wyndham Championship, along with Brandt Snedeker's T3. Holmes' lone Ryder Cup appearance was on the winning U.S. team in 2008 at Valhalla -- the last time the Americans won. Logic would suggest that given his length, Holmes should have an advantage at the beast that is Bethpage Black this week.
With a victory... Holmes would collect 1,485 points and move to 5,634.716, which would be fourth based on this week's most recent standings. Of course, where he'd eventually end up with a victory would also depend on where those in front of him finish.
2. Bubba Watson
Current rank: 10
Reason to watch: Watson has been a member of each of the last three Ryder Cup USA teams. It's hard to envision him not being a member of a fourth straight squad. He'll likely garner a Captain's Pick should it come to that. Though nothing really jumps out at you in terms of high finishes for Watson since the end of March, he does deserve some credit for consistency -- he hasn't missed a single cut in 15 starts this season (he did show flashes of brilliance with a T8 at the Olympics). Knowing Watson, he'll do everything he can this week to take a decision out of Love's hands.
With a victory... Watson would collect 1,485 points and move to 5,540.311, which would also be fourth based on this week's most recent standings.
3. Matt Kuchar
Current rank: 11
Reason to watch: Though he did not play in the Wyndham Championship, Kuchar will be making his first start this week since bronze in Rio. Like Watson, Kuchar has been on every U.S. team since 2010. Kuchar has been a top-10 machine on the PGA Tour through the years, and this season has been no different, as his nine top 10s in 22 starts indicates. Save for two missed cuts -- the most recent of which coming at the PGA Championship -- Kuchar has been his steady self throughout the season. Drawing another comparison to Watson, it's hard to picture this Ryder Cup USA team without Kuchar.
With a victory... Kuchar would collect 1,485 points and move to 5,502.455, which would also be fourth based on this week's most recent standings.
4. Rickie Fowler
Current rank: 12
Reason to watch: Though Fowler didn't move off of his No. 12 spot from a week ago, the standings can be deceiving. Fowler tied for 22nd at the Wyndham Championship at 10 under with rounds of 67-67-68-68. The significance of those scores is the fact that it was only the second time this season in which Fowler has played a tournament carding all four rounds in the 60s. The only other time he did that was during a fifth-place finish at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in early January.
If he isn't able to play himself onto the team, Fowler is going to need to show Love something to be given a nod as a Captain's Pick. Fowler's consistent scoring at Wyndham may have been part of that "something," but you get the feeling he's going to need to make a little more of an impression.
With a victory... Fowler would collect 1,485 points and move to 5,299.612, which would be fifth based on this week's most recent standings.
5. Jim Furyk
Current rank: 15
Reason to watch: A veteran of nine Ryder Cups, Furyk might be a cinch to make his 10th team were it not for an injury that set him back for much of the early part of this season. But hey, that happens. Since his return, Furyk has steadily played himself up the rankings and that isn't lost on Love. The fact that Furyk's Ryder Cup resume results-wise is less than ideal doesn't necessarily make him a popular Captain's Pick candidate amongst fans (which you can see for yourself with a simple Twitter search). Love has compared the presence of Furyk and wife, Tabitha, to that of Ray and Maria Floyd in the team room -- basically legendary. Truth be told -- if based on recent form alone (by the way, had you heard Furyk shot a PGA Tour-record low score of 58 recently?) -- Furyk certainly deserves Captain's Pick consideration even if it wouldn't be all that popular amongst fans. Furyk could do his friend Love an incredible favor this week by playing himself onto the team.
With a victory... Furyk would collect 1,485 points and move to 4,488.102, which would be sixth based on this week's most recent standings.
Here are some important dates to remember in the coming weeks:
- Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016: The top eight will be finalized at the conclusion of The Barclays, which is scheduled to finish on this date, as opposed to the traditional closing of points at the conclusion of the PGA Championship, which was played in July instead of August in 2016 due to the Olympics. It also affords players an additional two weeks from past years to earn a spot on points.
- Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016: Love will select three of his four Captain's Picks at the conclusion of the BMW Championship, scheduled to end on this day.
- Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016: Love will make his fourth and final Captain's Pick at the conclusion of the Tour Championship, scheduled to end on this day.
WATCH BELOW: Tiger Woods is the 'tactician' on the American team: