Sunday, August 12, 2012
Top 8 set for U.S. Ryder Cup team
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Phil Mickelson won't have to spend the next three weeks wondering if he'll be in the Ryder Cup.
In the final qualifying event for eight Americans to earn their way onto the team, there was no change after the PGA Championship. Mickelson was holding down the No. 8 spot, and he was assured of qualifying for the ninth straight time when neither Bo Van Pelt nor Steve Stricker could make a run on the back nine at Kiawah Island.
Tiger Woods, a captain's pick in 2010, was No. 1 in the standings.
Also qualifying were Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar. Dufner, Bradley and Simpson will be playing for the first time in the Ryder Cup, which will be played Sept. 28-30 at Medinah.
U.S. captain Davis Love III fills out his 12-man team on Sept. 4 with four picks.
Mickelson began the final round of the PGA Championship in range of a top finish, which would have pushed him over Kuchar. When he struggled to a 74, it was clear he would be in eighth-place, and then it was a matter of seeing if anyone could catch him.
Van Pelt would have needed second place alone, and he was in position, just two strokes out of that spot on the back nine. However, he bogeyed three of his last five holes for a 74 and tied for 18th.
Stricker made a late run with a birdie on the par-3 14th, but he had to settle for par on the 16th and he closed with a birdie on the 18th that made it look close. He wound up one shot out of a tie for third, which would have been enough to move past Mickelson.
There was virtually no change throughout the top 15 in the standings. Watson and Dufner swapped places, with Watson going to No. 2, while Van Pelt moved up one spot to No. 14 over Dustin Johnson.
Hunter Mahan, who missed the cut, remained at No. 9, followed by Stricker, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler and Brandt Snedeker. Indications are strong that Love will take Stricker and Furyk, who has never had to rely on being a pick. Furyk has played on every Ryder Cup team since 1997.
Mahan also would seem safe as a two-time winner who has played on every U.S. team -- including the Presidents Cup -- since 2007. Even so, Love will look at how the next three tournaments are played out, two of them part of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The standings, however, are over. No one can earn a spot on the team.
Mickelson walked off the course unsure of his standing, knowing Van Pelt and Stricker could catch him.
"Even though the score wasn't there, I hit some good shots," he said. "I was pretty pleased with how it started to come around. I had some opportunities to make a run. Unfortunately, I putted very poorly the last two days. But I'm looking forward to the upcoming stretch here with the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup -- hopefully."
At least he no longer has to hope.