Thursday, August 07, 2008

Next 3 weeks will steer U.S. Ryder Cup captain

By Sunday evening, eight of the 12 spots will be set for captain Paul Azinger's U.S. Ryder Cup team in September in Kentucky.

Though this week's PGA Championship could alter one or two of the eight automatics, we know Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Kenny Perry and Justin Leonard will be at Valhalla, among others.

The larger question is who Azinger will choose with his four captain's picks, which he doesn't have to make until Sept. 2. He will keep the points tally going and use it as an element of his choices but, more than anything, he'll be paying special attention to who's playing well over the next few weeks.

Captain Azinger made it clear earlier this week that he'll pay attention to who plays at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro next week and how they play. Maybe that's why Zach Johnson, one of many guys bunched just outside the top eight, added his name to Greensboro's commitment list this week, as did Paul Casey, who's trying to play his way onto Nick Faldo's European team.

Azinger must sort through a lot of guys who are good players but haven't been particularly spectacular recently. In fact, the 17 players ranked eighth through 24th entering the PGA Championship have won a combined three events this year.

Rather than find the hot players, Azinger may have to take guys who are warm. Right now, D.J. Trahan, Hunter Mahan, Sean O'Hair, Rocco Mediate, J.B. Holmes and Johnson are among the guys closest to the cut line in points.

Somehow, I don't think Faldo is worried. He has his own problems because he has more good players than he can use. Right now, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomery and Casey, are among the players who haven't qualified -- and Faldo has just two at-large spots to award.

This weekend will tell a lot. But the most intriguing part of the story may be told over the next three weeks.


Anonymous said...

Rocko deserves to be a captain's pick. Anyone who can go toe to toe with Tiger Woods at the US Open deserves a shot. Of course, Tiger was injured, but no one else stood up to the pressure.