It’s a massive week on the PGA Tour. The top-30 players on the FedEx Cup standings will battle it out for the Tour Championship and, let’s not forget, a small matter of a $10 million cheque.
But those are not the only reason American fans will be tuning in. Also in line is the remaining wildcard spot to become part of captain Davis Love’s Ryder Cup team that will take on the Europeans in Hazeltine next week.
News reports from the US suggest that Love may have revealed his preferences. On Monday, members of the US team scouted and practised at Hazeltine, and the captain invited four players who are still not part of the team — Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Jim Furyk (who is there as a vice-captain, but also has a chance to land the remaining wildcard).
So, the buzz is that Love’s narrowed it down to these four. If I have to put my money on one person, I’d go with Thomas. He is young and extremely enthusiastic, has had a great career as an amateur in team events, and most importantly, gets along very well with all the other players.
Bubba, a two-time Masters champion who missed out despite being ranked No7 in the world on automatic qualification and first pick when Love chose three of his wildcards, can still get the captain’s vote. However, he will have to do much better than his best finish at East Lake, where he was tied fifth in the 2012 and 2015 Tour Championships.
I can’t understand what to make out of the Furyk situation. You certainly want someone who has shot rounds of 59 and 58 in the past couple of years to be on your side. But he was 1-3-0 in the 2014 Ryder Cup and 1-2-0 in 2012. Obviously, he is very well respected and a fantastic team man. Love will have to weigh up whether he will be the best vice-captain for him, or the best wildcard.
Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed — as No1 and 2 in the standings — are best placed to claim the FedEx Cup riches. Given how well Johnson has played throughout the season, it would be the perfect icing on his cake. But then we have seen several times in the past that the most deserving player does not always get the $10 million cheque.
Rory McIlroy has been denied several times in the past. So perhaps, this is the year he gets lucky. The Northern Irishman did not have the best of BMW Championship, but we all know it does not take much for him to get super-hot on the golf course.
At the moment of writing this, I hadn’t heard anything from the Jason Day camp regarding the participation of the world No1 following his withdrawal from BMW Championship with a back issue. If he plays, I always say beware the injured golfer.
Whatever happens, one this is for certain — we are all set for an exciting week of golf.
— Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time champion on the European Tour