Ryder Cup race reaches final Major
As the world’s best players gather at Baltusrol Golf Club just west of New York City for the US PGA Championship, Team Europe’s Ryder Cup hopefuls will be eyeing up the significant amount of World Points on offer at the year’s final Major Championship.
With the likes of Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick enjoying a sizeable advantage over Lee Westwood and the other main contenders in the last automatic qualifying spots for a place on Darren Clarke’s team as things stand, and just four Ryder Cup qualifying events remaining on The European Tour after this week, one big finish in the States might be enough to see one lucky contender pass Fitzpatrick and co. and book their place on the plane to Hazeltine.
So with all of that in mind we thought we would breakdown all the different permutations for this week. (Please note calculations are based on Fitzpatrick missing the cut.)
Two of The European Tour’s most experienced players, Søren Kjeldsen and Westwood, both need to finish in fourth alone to jump into that coveted ninth and final position in the qualifying race.
Considering the pair have posted some impressive Major Championship finishes so far this season, with Søren notching two top tens at the US Open and Open Championship, and Westwood finishing in a tie for second at The Masters, the likes of Fitzpatrick might be looking nervously over their shoulders should they fail to make it to the weekend in New Jersey.
Shane Lowry and Thorbjørn Olesen, two men who have impressed so far this season and are vying to make their Ryder Cup bows in Hazeltine, both need to finish among the top three if they are to stand a chance of jumping above Fitzpatrick.
Lowry, who led into the final round of the US Open at Oakmont needs to finish in outright third place with a three-way tie for third being enough for Olesen.
With all the leading contenders for a place on Clarke’s side not wanting to risk having to rely on a Captain’s Pick when the Northern Irishman makes that announcement on the Tuesday before the Omega European Masters, players with Ryder Cup experience like Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Francesco Molinari will need to finish in tied second place or better if they are to move into the automatic places in Ryder Cup Qualifying.
Two very talented youngsters in the shape of the big-hitting Thomas Pieters and the impressive Tyrrell Hatton, also need to finish among the top two to get on the right side of the cut off line, while Russell Knox, the consistent Joost Luiten and Rikard Karlberg need to finish in second place outright.
While for some players even a US PGA Championship win and the massive 100 World Golf Ranking points on offer would not be enough to see them jump into ninth place, the likes of Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston, 2014 Ryder Cup heroes Jamie Donaldson & Victor Dubuisson, Luke Donald and Bernd Wiesberger can all make their presence felt among those qualifying automatically for The Ryder Cup at the end of the week, with a win at Baltusrol Golf Club.
With the extra Ryder Cup narrative adding to the excitement of the year’s final Major Championship, there is more than just the Wanamaker trophy on offer this week.