PGA Championship last shot for American Ryder Cup hopefuls

The PGA Championship is the last chance for golfers to qualify for the American Ryder Cup team,...

The PGA Championship is the last chance for golfers to qualify for the American Ryder Cup team, captained by Davis Love III. (CHRIS KEANE/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:20 PM ET

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - The Ryder Cup matches may still be 50 days away, but they will be very much on the players' minds here at the PGA Championship this weekend.

This is the final qualifying tournament for candidates for the American squad that will host Europe at Medinah in suburban Chicago on the final three days of September and only one player -- Tiger Woods -- has assured himself of a spot in the competition.

Seven others will qualify automatically on a points system based on dollars of prize money won. As a major, the PGA Championship will be worth double points.

After the eight top names are established, captain Davis Love will have until Sept. 4 to decide on four captain's picks before he finalizes his team.

This tournament is also an important one for the European side as the time grows short for anyone to accumulate points toward the 10 automatic places that will be decided after the Johnny Walker Championship at Gleneagles (Scotland) on Aug. 26. One day after that, captain Jose Maria Olazabal will name his two captain's picks.

Right now, in order behind Woods, the top American point-earners are Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson. Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler round out the top 12, though Davis is not bound to pick his final four based on points. Brandt Snedeker, Bo Van Pelt and Dustin Johnson are all likely still in the mix.

"It's exciting," said Love. "We have a lot of guys --12 to 15 -- playing really well right now."

On the European side, the top 10 is composed of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Paul Lawrie, Francsco Molinari, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Peter Hanson, Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood.

"Every one of those players that are in today have Ryder Cup experience," said Olazabal. "In that regard, I'm really pleased."

Just outside the cutline is Sergio Garcia who has played some of the best golf of his career as a Ryder Cupper and is all but certain to be one of Olazabal's picks. Not so certain right now is Padraig Harrington, who sits 29th on the European points list.

"(Garcia) is a great team player," said Olazabal. "His spirit is always good. He has the experience and the knowledge and he wants to be part of it.

"Padraig has to do extraordinarily well (in the next few weeks). He's well down the list. If he plays well he can still make the team but it's going to be up to him."

Love isn't going to make any snap judgments about his four picks and will rely on the counsel of his assistant captains Fred Couples and Mike Hulbert as well as senior team members like Woods.

Love said he will be watching the FedEx playoffs very closely, pointing to Rickie Fowler's strong finish last year that vaulted him onto the Presidents Cup team.

"He got hot at the end and got picked," said Love. "I would like to catch somebody that's hot this week and the next two tournaments they play."

Europe has won four of the last five and six of the last eight Ryder Cup renewals, a match play tournament that is played every two years.

GARRIGUS LOVES AN OCEAN VIEW

Robert Garrigus, who finished tied for second two weeks ago at the Canadian Open, is hoping the wind blows up a gale this weekend.

Garrigus played The Ocean Course on a windy day in the spring and found the 7,676-yard course to his liking

"It was blowing 40 m.p.h., and I loved it," said Garrigus. "I just hope it blows that hard all four days."

Garrigus should have won the Canadian Open but his major flaw -- putting -- jumped up and bit him in the final round when he used 33 putts on his way to an even-par round of 70 at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, losing by one shot to Scott Piercy.

Since then, Garrigus has studied videotape and found that he had changed his stance in that Sunday round and has now changed his grip to even out his stroke, with some positive results.


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