The Presidents Cup is still three months away, so there's no need to hold your breath just yet, but Chris DiMarco, the man perhaps most responsible for the United States' thrilling victory over the Internationals in 2005, is in serious danger of not making this year's squad. After a 64 Thursday at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., DiMarco posted weekend rounds of 74-73 to fade to T-46. He's currently 34th in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings.
Jack Nicklaus may find it difficult to use one of his two captain's picks on DiMarco, whose best finish in 16 starts this year is a T-12 at the Players. An ailing shoulder has bothered one of the game's most tenacious competitors for the first half of '07. Despite two cortisone shots this spring, the pain hasn't subsided.
"It had been hurting me for a while and everybody told me to get a shot," DiMarco said. "It didn't start popping until I had the [first dose] of cortisone -- maybe it loosened something up in there and it started popping, but it certainly has been bothering me for two or three months."
With two majors and a World Golf Championship still remaining before the 10 automatic qualifiers are finalized following the PGA Championship, DiMarco has opportunities to make up the necessary ground. It's worth noting he was well outside the top 10 in Ryder Cup qualifying last summer before finishing second to Tiger Woods at the British Open.
Of course, that rally occurred with DiMarco playing at 100 percent, or close to it.
"The problem isn't so much the pain, but [knowing] it's going to pop," he said. "You're not thinking about the ball, you're thinking about the pop. If you play well, like I did [Thursday], you tend to forget about it -- it doesn't really even matter because you're focused on golf. The good rounds I've played this year, I haven't really thought about it."
Here are some other things to think about: DiMarco ranks a ghastly 170th on tour in total driving, 150th in greens in regulation and 163rd in birdies per round. Never a premier ball-striker by tour standards, he remains in the top third in both putting statistics, but in recent months, too many of those putts have been for par. In considering DiMarco as a captain's choice, Nicklaus might also notice his failed partnership with Phil Mickelson against the Europeans in September 2006; the two men did not earn a point in three matches together.
John Hawkins is a senior writer for Golf World magazine