FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – The strong play of Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed at The Barclays could be a big blow to the Ryder Cup chances of Zach Johnson.
Johnson entered this week at No. 7 in the U.S. standings, with the top eight players after this week qualifying automatically for Hazeltine. And while Johnson sits near the bottom of the standings through three rounds at Bethpage Black, two of the players behind him occupy the top two spots on the leaderboard.
Johnson entered the week with a $157,602 lead over Reed, who sat at No. 8 in the standings. Reed will begin the final round one shot behind Fowler, seemingly in line for a big payday that would vault him past Johnson on the final standings. For instance, a solo fifth-place finish for Reed would yield $340,000 while a 10th-place showing would still mean $229,500.
The situation between Johnson and No. 12 Fowler is a bit more fluid. Johnson started the week with a $523,361 lead, but Fowler is now in line for a win ($1.53 million) or perhaps a runner-up ($918,000).
After a third-round 75, Johnson begins the final round in a five-way tie for 62nd that would pay $18,020. It means that barring a final-round surge from the two-time major champ, he would likely get bumped from automatic qualification if Fowler finishes solo third ($578,000) or better along with Reed remaining inside the top 10.
The first five players (Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka) have all clinched spots, while No. 6 Brandt Snedeker is T-34 through three rounds and appears safe for Hazeltine.