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Tough Day for Ryder Cup Hopefuls

2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill. -- Scott Verplank knew he needed a good week to make his case for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
He didn't get it. Now, instead of a probability for Ireland, he's no better than a remote possibility.
'It's a big deal. It's something that was a goal of mine,' Verplank said after double bogeys on two of his last three holes Friday took him from a weekend tee time to the wrong side of the cut line at the PGA Championship.
'I'm disappointed I didn't make a better showing this week.'
He's not the only one. The top 10 players in the Ryder Cup rankings after the PGA automatically make the team, and captain Tom Lehman has two additional picks. Five players have already clinched their spots, and Chris DiMarco is a virtual lock.
But those remaining four guaranteed spots were very much up for grabs this week. And all the moving and shaking Friday affected far more than the PGA leaderboard.
Tim Herron and Davis Love III helped their chances immensely, and J.J. Henry is in good shape. The verdict is still out for Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink, though they at least bought themselves two more days to make good impressions.
Three players who were in the top 10 coming into this week may have cost themselves spots on the team. Vaughn Taylor (7th), Zach Johnson (9th) and Brett Wetterich (10th) all missed the cut. So did John Rollins, who was 11th.
The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 22-24 at The K Club, an Arnold Palmer design about 25 miles west of Dublin.
'When you're a guy that's somewhere in that selectable area, you think about it,' said Verplank, who began the week 20th in the standings and was a longshot to begin with. 'But I don't think it's dominated my thinking.'
Verplank's problem was bad luck. And even worse timing.
Every golfer has a week where bad shots find the deepest rough possible or land in a divot. Where any shot in the sand is plugged. Verplank just happened to have that week at the PGA.
He had worked himself back to even par -- the cut line -- with birdies on the 14th and 15th holes. But he double bogeyed the par-4 16th and then took a 5 on the par-3 17th.
Just like that, his weekend at Medinah -- and maybe a trip to Ireland -- was gone.
'I just didn't do anything great,' Verplank said. 'I didn't play very well and got punished whenever I made a mistake. ... I want to play better every time I play. I feel like I wasted my time if I don't come out and play well.'
But Verplank wasn't the only one. All Taylor, Johnson and Wetterich had to do was put up decent scores and they likely could have locked up their spots. Instead Taylor blew up with a 78 Friday and was 5-over for the tournament. Wetterich went 76-77, with two quadruple bogeys the first day and a 9 on the par-4 18th Friday.
Johnson only missed the cut by a shot. But with so many guys below him in the standings playing well, he could find himself on the bubble.
One of those guys who could push Johnson out is Love.
Love has been on every Ryder Cup team since 1993, the longest active streak of the Americans. Though he was fourth in the standings when the year began, he had dropped down to 15th and needed a top eight finish here to clinch one of the automatic berths.
He's certainly put himself in good position. Love is at 7-under, one stroke behind the leaders.
Herron, who was 17th in the rankings, did even better. He closed his round Friday with two birdies, giving him a 5-under 67 -- and a share of the lead.
'I think this year I've started playing for points, and it's really been a distraction,' Love said. 'I've enjoyed the last couple of weeks because it's been a challenge to put that out of your head.
'Yeah, I've backed myself into a corner,' he added. 'Sometimes you start doing the things you're supposed to be doing a little bit better when you're backed into a corner. ... I'd love to play my way on.'
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