Ryder Cup: Five potential USA Captain's Picks to watch at BMW Championship
The adage, "There's no time like the present," applies to a bunch of U.S. players in the 70-player field at this week's BMW Championship -- the third leg of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup -- in terms of impressing Ryder Cup USA Captain Davis Love III.
With the eight automatic qualifiers for Ryder Cup USA having been decided on August 28, all eyes are on Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana, this week. On Monday, Sept. 12 -- the day after the BMW Championship ends -- Love will make three of his four Captain's Picks.
Love will fill out his 12-man squad in the hours following the conclusion of the Tour Championship on Sept. 25, the night before the team travels to Hazeltine for Ryder Cup week.
It's worth noting that Jim Furyk, a Vice Captain for Hazeltine and a man who has played in nine Ryder Cups previously, is not eligible for this week's tournament. He did not advance into the top 70 in FedExCup standings after a T57 showing in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Furyk missed a lot of time at the start of the season as he recovered from injury, but had done a lot to impress Love in the last few months, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the U.S. Open at Oakmont and a PGA Tour-record score of 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship. Furyk is still in the Captain's Picks picture, but can no longer do anything to impress Love with his play.
Steve Stricker, also a Vice Captain for the U.S., is in a similar boat to Furyk in that he's out for this week. He did play in the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship in an effort to play his way into consideration, but advanced no further than TPC Boston.
Here's a look a five potential Captain's Picks to watch this week at the BMW Championship:
Final Ryder Cup rank: 11
Reason to watch: He's a top-10 player in the world (currently No. 9 in the OWGR) and seemed to find his game in the last few weeks, evidenced by a T22 at the Wyndham Championship -- just his second tournament with all four rounds in the 60s this year -- and a T7 the next week in the Barclays, where he was undone by a final-round 74. Fowler had to be licking his chops heading to TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship last week where he was the defending champion, but was only able to muster a T46. Phil Mickelson mentioned last week that three of the Captain's Picks are "pretty obvious" at this point. We're not sure they're all that obvious at all, really, but one would think Fowler falls into that category. Even still, one last chance for a good week would go a long way toward making Captain Love feel good about using a pick on Fowler.
Final Ryder Cup rank: 9
Reason to watch: Watson is the guy that "just missed." One spot higher and he would have been an automatic qualifier. But, as it turns out, if Watson is to compete in his fourth consecutive Ryder Cup, it's going to be as a Captain's Pick. What does Watson have going for him? Incredible, sometimes intimidating, length and remarkable consistency. What does he have going against him? His lone missed cut this year came just last week at TPC Boston. Don't read too deeply into that missed cut, however. Love knows as well as anyone that one tournament isn't indicative of an entire season's worth of work. Plus, the MC came a week after T13 in the Barclays, which was preceded by a T8 in the Olympics. A great week would be nice, but it's hard to envision this Ryder Cup USA team without Watson on it.
Final Ryder Cup rank: 12
Reason to watch: This one is interesting. Kuchar has been on four Ryder Cup teams and none of those has come up victorious. He's a seven-time PGA Tour winner, but hasn't won since the 2014 RBC Heritage -- the week after that year's Masters. In two starts since taking the bronze medal in the Rio Games, Kuchar finished T64 at the Barclays and T46 at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He's only missed the cut twice in 24 tournaments this season with nine top 10s over that span. Will this veteran get the nod from Love? Or, assuming Fowler and Watson are already on the team, does Love turn to some youth instead? You would think that a win at Barclays or the Tour Championship would make Kuchar a lock. Anything short of that, the decision becomes more difficult.
Final Ryder Cup rank: 20
Reason to watch: Moore has played in every event since the PGA Championship. He's probably wanted to take a break, but when you're riding the kind of hot streak he's on, you don't really want to jump off the train. In his last six starts, Moore has finished inside the top 8 on three occasions, highlighted by his victory in the John Deere Classic. In his last two starts, Moore finished T7 at the Barclays and T8 at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The entire point of making these Captain's Picks so much later than usual is to be able to select the hottest players possible. As things stand right now, you'd be hard-pressed to find a hotter player than Moore. He's almost playing himself into a position where it's impossible for Love to leave him off the team.
Final Ryder Cup rank: 25
Reason to watch: Will Love roll the dice on Thomas, a young player that many are forecasting we'll see on Ryder Cup USA teams for years to come? If the last month is any indication, we should expect a big week from Thomas at Crooked Stick. His last four starts look like this -- T3 (Travelers), missed cut (Wyndham), T10 (Barclays) and missed cut (Deutsche Bank). Anything short of a win in these last two events (unless it's maybe back to back T3s or better) and I don't think Thomas is on this team. Sure, he picked up a victory in the CIMB Classic very early in the season when Ryder Cup points weren't available. Love will factor that in. Love would enjoy having Thomas on his team, but is probably thinking, "Give me one last reason to pick you."