Punch Shot: Most likely to play himself into a Ryder Cup automatic berth

By Jason SobelJuly 28, 2014, 11:08 pm

Push is coming to shove when it comes to the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Just two events - this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and next week's PGA Championship - for players to wrap up one of the nine automatic spots on the team. We asked our writers, which player outside the top nine in points has the best chance to play his way in?


Nobody wants to be on this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team more than Keegan Bradley.

OK, so maybe that’s not fair. Maybe there’s no palpable, tangible method for measuring a player’s desire. Maybe other players want it just as much – or even more.

But nobody else outwardly shows it as much, either with their words or their actions. Bradley hardly goes a few sentences without volunteering how much he wants to be part of Tom Watson’s roster at Gleneagles. And he’s put his money where his mouth is, too, flying over to Scotland prior to The Open Championship in order to play the course with the captain and see how it suits his game. (According to Watson, it’s tailor-made for him.)

All of which is well and good, but doesn’t erase the fact that Bradley remains 16th on a points list with only the top nine automatically qualifying.

That could – and maybe should – change this week, as he travels to Firestone Country Club, site of his last PGA Tour win two years ago and a course for which he’s professed his fondness on numerous occasions.

That’s a lot of mojo pointing in Bradley’s favor. For a player who so desperately wants to be on the team, this week looks like an excellent opportunity to make it happen.


OK, so this is a critical stretch for most everyone carrying a PGA Tour card, but it’s especially so for a player like Keegan Bradley. Yes, he’s a former winner at Firestone. Yes, he’s a former winner of the PGA. But the Ryder Cup is coming, now just eight weeks away, and no event in golf jangles his nerves quite like the biennial gathering.

The thing is, Bradley is in danger of missing out. He has played decent this season – a runner-up at Bay Hill, a top 5 at the U.S. Open, a few other top 10s sprinkled in. But he’s winless in the past 104 weeks, and high intensity alone won’t be enough to leapfrog some of the other Ryder Cup contenders.

Bradley knows this better than anyone, which is why he seems most likely to parlay his recent good form – back-to-back top 20s, including a T-4 at the Greenbrier – into an automatic spot. If not, he’ll do enough to warrant a pick. The Americans need as many in-form firecrackers as they can get.


For some, professional golf’s version of the two-minute drill begins with this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

While technically U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson has until Sept. 2 before he will finalize this year’s team with his three captain’s picks, for many hopefuls the real deadline is just a fortnight away.

Players like Brendon Todd, who may be the U.S. side’s hottest player right now, have this week’s World Golf Championship and next week’s PGA Championship to punch their ticket to Gleneagles in September.

It’s not as though Todd isn’t worthy of one of Watson’s picks. The third-year PGA Tour player has finished outside the top 10 in just two of his last seven starts dating back to his breakthrough victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

It’s why Todd has the look of a serious 11th-hour qualifier.

Todd will also have extra motivation to earn his spot onto the team considering the tough decisions Watson will likely face. Currently Tiger Woods (70th on the U.S. points list), Phil Mickelson (11th) and Keegan Bradley (16th) are all potential picks.

It’s a reality that could leave Todd as the odd man out, and why he has the motivation, and talent, to play his way onto the U.S. team.


Phil Mickelson is due for a nice little run to salvage a disappointing season, and now’s the time to make it. Yeah, he hasn’t won all year, hasn’t had a top-10 finish in a PGA Tour event, either. If you’re handicapping his chances to make the Ryder Cup team on points, you might not like the way the next two weeks set up. Lefty hasn’t had a top 10 at the WGC-Bridgestone since 2008. It has been just as long since he had a top 10 at the PGA Championship. And that’s perfect. Mickelson seems to deliver best when it’s least expected. A nice little run over the next two months can do more than salvage a season. It can still turn it into a memorable one.


There are several players within reach of the U.S. Ryder Cup bubble heading into the final fortnight of qualification, but the player most likely to play his way into the top nine is Brendon Todd.

After playing the Web.com circuit last year, Todd broke through for his maiden win in Dallas in May and has showed no signs of slowing since. His T-39 finish at Hoylake snapped a string of six straight top 20s dating back to his HP Byron Nelson victory, but at a time when many top Americans are struggling to produce results, Todd is providing plenty of them while putting the finishing touches on a career year.

The 29-year-old has an enviable stat line: third on Tour in strokes gained putting, fifth in scrambling and 10th in scoring average. While Firestone and Valhalla are unfamiliar venues for the Georgia product, his current form trumps his relative inexperience and, as he sits only 200 points out of the No. 9 slot heading into this week, Todd will earn his ticket to Gleneagles by mid-August.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.