PGA Holds Great Implications for Ryder Cup


While the main focus of the 2001 PGA Championship centers around the crowning of the fourth major champion of the year, there is another storyline that will be unfolding in Atlanta, Ga. this week.
The PGA marks the last tournament by which Americans can qualify for Septembers Ryder Cup Matches ' and that means that a whole lot can happen this week which might affect the U.S.s presence at The Belfry next month.
Currently, there are only 46 points separating the No. 7 slot (Scott Hoch) from the No. 10 slot (Tom Lehman) on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list.
There are approximately 90 points between the 10th and the 15th slots.
The way the American points system is structured, points are only awarded for finishes inside the top-10 of any given tournament.
In Ryder Cup years, the points are doubled, however. And in major championships, they are weighted even heavier.
A win in Atlanta this week would garnish 300 points for a lucky American, with 20 points being awarded for a finish of 10th, and a descending amount in between.
The tournament could prove to be a real gem for a player like Kenny Perry, who just last week moved to No. 24 in points from his win at the Buick Open. Currently 173 points behind the final tenth spot, Perry will virtually need a win this week to make the Cup, but it is possible.
Even more possible are the chances for several other players.
At No. 11 on the rankings, Chris DiMarco is just ten points behind Lehman for the final automatic spot.
His great play at last weeks event saw him move to that position from No. 16, and with his three top-3 finishes over the last four weeks, should he stay on form, he will have a superb chance of going to England.
Jim Furyk, who finished in joint-third with DiMarco last week, actually moved into the eighth spot, down three slots from 11th. While the pressure will be slightly less, he still needs to perform solidly to hold his automatic berth.
Brad Faxon is faced with the same sort of situation that he was in the 1995 PGA, when he shot a final round 63 to finish fifth for the tournament and gain just enough points to make the team.
Faxon currently lies No. 13, and will be looking for the same kind of magic that he found in 95.
So too will American heros Paul Azinger (No. 19) and Justin Leonard (No. 23).
For the Europeans, this is also an important week, though not quite as final.
As 19 of the top-20 players on the European points list will be teeing it up at the Atlanta Athletic Club, a superb opportunity exists for movement.
Yet, once the tournament is done, there are still several more opportunities ' culminating in the BMW International Open ' to gain points.
The week could hold great potential for Paul McGinley, who won last weeks Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open to move from No. 10 to No. 8 in European Rankings.
However, for Darren Clarke, who is No. 1 on the list, automatic entry has already been wrapped up into Septembers highly-anticipated Ryder Cup.
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