What We Learned at the US PGA Championship
With September's Ryder Cup at Le Golf National fast approaching, a host of European stars boosted their chances of making Thomas Bjørn's team with strong performances at last week's US PGA Championship.
Jon Rahm finished in a share of fourth after posting four successive rounds in the 60s at Bellerive Country Club, while big-hitting Belgian Thomas Pieters, who starred for Europe at Hazeltine National last time out, was another stroke further back alongside Open Champion Francesco Molinari in joint sixth.
Here are some of the things we learned from the fourth and final Major of the year...
Hatton and Rafa mean business
Flawless final-round 64s earned Tyrrell Hatton and Rafa Cabrera Bello top-ten finishes, as both players fired six birdies and no bogeys on Sunday. Spaniard Cabrera Bello, a Ryder Cup rookie in 2016, gave his chances of making the team for this year's showpiece a huge lift as he moved to 11th in the World Points List. Hatton, meanwhile, remains firmly in the top four of the European Points List alongside Molinari, Justin Rose and last season’s Race to Dubai Champion Tommy Fleetwood.
Molinari’s form is here to stay
Francesco Molinari has been in sparkling form this summer after following up a win at the BMW PGA Championship and on the US PGA Tour, with his maiden Major Championship victory at The Open. Some players seem to struggle after their first Major triumph but that does not appear to be the case for Molinari. The Italian, who helped Europe to victory in 2010 and 2012, enjoyed another fine week, finishing in a share of sixth in St Louis. The 35 year old’s fine run of form will have certainly been noticed on the other side of the pond.
Don’t rule out the outsiders
Pieters was alongside Molinari at ten under as he recovered some of the form that saw him make a big impression at the last Ryder Cup, where the Belgian became the first European rookie to win four points. Pieters may currently sit in 20th place in the European Points List but his performance will certainly have caught the eye of captain Bjørn. The 26 year old isn't the only outsider who impressed last week, with Irishman Shane Lowry producing a sensational 64 to move into contention after the second round. And Englishman Matt Wallace, who hit the headlines with a memorable ace at the short 16th in his third round, recorded his best-ever Major finish to throw his hat into the ring.
Rahm is ready
With two Rolex Series victories and a win in his home Open to his name, Jon Rahm knows all about performing on the biggest stages. He proved that to the world yet again last week as he finished in a tie for fourth on 11 under par, to equal his best-ever result at a Major Championship. Rahm, currently third on the World Points List, may never have played in the Ryder Cup before but the Spaniard is expected to be a key part of Europe's team this autumn.
Poulter firmly in contention
Ian Poulter finally moved into the European automatic qualification spots thanks to another good week. The English Ryder Cup legend finished in a tie for 31st on five under to grab eighth spot on the World Points List. The five-time Ryder Cup winner has been in fantastic form recently, securing four top-ten finishes on the European Tour and winning the Houston Open in America.