From Tiger to Sandy: Ranking all 93 Masters players

By Jason SobelApril 10, 2013, 12:15 pm

A wise man once said there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and ... nobody will ever correctly predict an entire golf tournament.

And yet, here I am. Again.

In what’s become an annual rite of foolishness, I have once again attempted to prognosticate the entire Masters field – from the man who will claim the green jacket to the unfortunate soul who finishes dead last.

If this list isn’t 100 percent correct on Sunday evening, I’ll guarantee your money back. (But here’s a thought: Maybe you’re reading it upside-down?) If it is, well, brace yourself for the next installment of Tigermania.

Either way, here’s hoping this helps with those for-entertainment-purposes-only office pools. Much like a good caddie, I’ll let you take all of the credit, but I’ll shoulder all of the blame – as long as you promise to tip 10 percent for the win.

1. Tiger Woods

Lost amid the hoopla surrounding Woods’ three-win start to the season is this telling stat: On the three previous occasions that he won three times prior to the Masters, he never followed by also winning at Augusta. Clichéd translation? Don’t count your green jackets before they’ve hatched. That said, even though I’m not as bullish about Tiger’s chances as most people, I also can’t find anyone in this field that I’d rank higher. A fifth Masters title – and subsequent pandemonium throughout the golf world – may be just days from taking place.


2. Keegan Bradley

I was recently talking Masters contenders with a PGA Tour pro who knows Bradley’s game well and picked him to win. When I inquired as to whether the former PGA champion has the right ball flight for Augusta, he looked at me funny. “Well, he hits it long and straight and high,” the player said. “That’s the right ball flight for every course.” Duly noted. Also noted is that Bradley has been knocking on the door all year without breaking through it yet.


77th Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

Golf Channel's Masters coverage


3. Rory McIlroy

So let me get this straight: Every top player talks about peaking at the right time to win major championships. But when Boy Wonder failed to peak in the weeks and months before the Masters, he was subject to ridicule for not having his best stuff yet. Well, following a solo second place at the Valero Texas Open this past week, Rory may just have the last laugh. Personally, I often prefer picking players who haven’t yet peaked rather than ones who already have. Hopefully your stockbroker has the same theory.


4. Bill Haas

Bubba Watson won the Masters in his fourth appearance; likewise, Trevor Immelman won in his fourth as a pro. Wanna take a guess as to what number this will be for Haas? After results between 26th and 42nd in his first three starts, he seems primed to contend this week. Bigger question is whether he can win. Despite four victories in the last three seasons, he’s gotten into the final group on a Sunday twice already this year, but has underwhelmed each time.


5. Lee Westwood

Yeah, yeah. I know the knock on Westwood. By now, everyone does. He’s one of the game’s preeminent ball-strikers, but at times looks lost with a putter in his hands. And more often than not, those times are down the stretch in major championships. While his putting statistics don’t show much improvement this season, there could be something about a gradually closing window that could help him finally hole some of those must-make putts in search of his long-awaited first major title.


6. Phil Mickelson

It’s funny. I keep hearing scuttlebutt about Mickelson running out of chances to win this tournament. Umm, he’s won three of 'em – and that last one was just three years ago. On a course where experience may play a bigger factor than anything else, Lefty has finished outside of the top 10 just twice since 1999. He wasn’t happy about not having a similar course to play the week before, but a little downtime prior to the Masters could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.


7. Henrik Stenson

Upon reaching the Masters field less than two weeks ago by squeezing into the world’s top 50 just before the deadline, Stenson was thrilled with the result. Not only because he gets to compete in the tournament for an eighth consecutive year, but because – in his opinion – he’s playing better than he ever has before the year’s first major. How much better? Well, he’s first on the PGA Tour in both total driving and greens in regulation percentage. That’s pretty good.


8. Adam Scott

There are two ways to look at Scott’s close call at Lytham last year: Either he doesn’t have the stuff to claim a major down the stretch or he proved that he’s very close. I’ll take the latter and use his T-2 finish at Augusta two years ago as further evidence. If we were giving a grade to Scott for his performance so far this season, though, it would have to be an I for Incomplete. With only four starts under his belt, he’s hoping that translates into extra rest instead of rust.


9. Rickie Fowler

He may have a homemade swing that doesn’t look straight out of an instructor’s assembly line, but that doesn’t mean Fowler’s move at the ball isn’t effective. While distance gets all the glory, trajectory is just as key on fast, firm greens. There is an actual PGA Tour stat called “hang time” which ranks how long shots stay in the air. Rickie ranks third in that category, which should serve him very well on a course that forces plenty of long and mid-irons into its holes.


10. Charl Schwartzel

Just 104 weeks removed from winning this event, Schwartzel hasn’t finished worse than 22nd in his last dozen stroke-play events worldwide. The debate is still open as to whether he or childhood buddy Louis Oosthuizen is the better player. Give me Schwartzel – well, at least this week. If it’s possible for a top-15 player who won two years ago to come to this event under the radar, then that’s exactly what he’s doing. All of which should serve him well during the tournament.


11. Justin Rose

Many are referring to him as a “dark horse” contender. Sorry, No. 3 player in the world is never a dark horse.


12. Matt Kuchar

With just a few holes left to play in last year’s final round, it looked like Kuchar was the guy with an inside track.


13. Hunter Mahan

As always, the key will be his short game around the greens, something he’s worked on in recent years.


14. Jason Day

After sharing second place two years ago, he’s taken a dip in the rankings, but seems to be on the uptick once again.


15. Fred Couples

It’s April; it’s Augusta; it’s Freddie. Even at 53, we’ve come to expect the unexpected from him.


16. K.J. Choi

Showing signs of trending in the right direction and he’s contended at Augusta in the past.


17. Luke Donald

Despite a strong finish two years ago, game is better suited for the other three majors.


18. Jason Dufner

Hmm … wonder what Billy Payne’s official stance would be on Dufnering in Butler Cabin.


19. Louis Oosthuizen

Everyone remembers the albatross, but he held it together with duct tape in last year’s final round.


20. Nicolas Colsaerts

Long-bombing Belgian will contend in the Masters … someday. Just needs a little experience first.


21. Dustin Johnson

His game seems tailor-made for Augusta National, which makes it puzzling why he hasn’t fared better than T-30.


22. Vijay Singh

If you thought the mess surrounding his deer-antler spray confession was big news, just wait 'til he contends this week.


23. Brian Gay

Great putters always have a chance to contend – and Gay is among the game’s best putters right now.


24. Steve Stricker

So far, so good with the part-time schedule. Let’s see if that carries over to the majors.


25. Ian Poulter

If the Masters ever moves to a match-play format, he’ll be No. 1 on this list.


26. Webb Simpson

The reigning U.S. Open champion has proven that he’s good enough to contend anyplace, anytime.


27. Ernie Els

It would be equal parts poetic and ironic if, one year after failing to qualify for the field, Els finally wins a green jacket.


28. Branden Grace

First-timer is looking to follow in the footsteps of Schwartzel and Oosthuizen as next young South African major champ.


29. Graeme McDowell

He wins his second major title this year … I think. But it won’t happen this week … I think.


30. Jim Furyk

Eagle hole-out to finish a strong week in San Antonio had to feel good for the much maligned veteran.


31. Freddie Jacobson

Player nicknamed Junkman can get up and down from everywhere, but that may be better suited for winning a U.S. Open.


32. Padraig Harrington

The bespectacled Irishman has shown signs of life recently, coming off a T-10 in San Antonio.


33. Brandt Snedeker

With a win and two seconds in the year’s first two months, gotta wonder whether he peaked too early.


34. Bubba Watson

Defending champ says his main goal is to make the cut, so he doesn’t have to sit around for two days before putting a green jacket on someone else.


35. Francesco Molinari

Ball-striker supreme somewhat surprisingly – and disappointingly – only owns one top-10 in 16 major starts.


36. Kevin Streelman

Recent winner of the Tampa Bay Championship has the grit and fire to contend at a major someday soon.


37. Peter Hanson

Surprise contender last year won’t be able to sneak up on anyone again.


38. Robert Garrigus

Quietly owns four finishes of 16th or better in eight PGA Tour starts this season.


39. Nick Watney

High-ball hitter has fared well at this event in the past, but hasn’t made much noise so far this season.


40. Bo Van Pelt

In last year’s final round, he netted a hole-in-one and bagged an another albatross, too.


41. Martin Kaymer

Once changed his swing to fit Augusta and it didn’t work. There’d be a lesson if it does work now.


42. Scott Piercy

Big hitter makes a lot of birdies and is the type of guy who could find his way onto a Round 1 leaderboard.


43. Ryan Moore

Ready to start contending at majors, but missed cuts in his last two starts shouldn’t be too inspiring.


44. David Lynn

Granted he lost by eight, but Lynn burst onto the scene here in the U.S. with a runner-up at last year’s PGA, parlaying that into PGA Tour membership.


45. John Merrick

Who says experience matters? Merrick finished T-6 in his initial Masters start two years ago.


46. Sergio Garcia

Remember: It was at Augusta last year where Sergio was quoted as saying that he’s not good enough to win a major.


47. Angel Cabrera

He’s made five of seven cuts this year, but having trouble closing, with just one of 10 weekend rounds in the 60s.


48. George Coetzee

South African failed to make the cut in each of his three major championship starts last year.


49. Russell Henley

Expect the nerves to be rattling a bit for the University of Georgia product and Sony Open champion.


50. Martin Laird

Valero Texas Open champion must feel like he’s playing with house money after receiving an 11th hour invitation.


51. Zach Johnson

Past champion has yet to play his best golf this season, with no result better than T-18 in eight starts.


52. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano

Sneaky good Spaniard will challenge for a major sometime soon and make next year’s Ryder Cup team.


53. Matteo Manassero

Will lose his record this week as youngest player to ever compete in the Masters.


54. Carl Pettersson

In contention at last year’s PGA Championship before touching a leaf with his backswing in a hazard early in the final round.


55. Bernhard Langer

OK, it’s the Champions Tour, but Langer does have a win, two seconds and a third in five starts so far this year.


56. Stewart Cink

After getting into the final pairing in Houston two weeks ago, he’s showing signs of rounding into form.


57. John Peterson

Weird juxtaposition with last year’s U.S. Open contender in this week’s field while still trying to work his way up through the Web.com Tour.


58. Marc Leishman

Travelers Championship winner is one of four Aussie players in this week’s field.


59. a-Michael Weaver

According to those in the know, this junior from Cal is the best of the amateur bunch this year.


60. Jamie Donaldson

Making his tournament debut at age 37, the Welshman has competed in seven career U.S. events with just one top-30 finish.


61. Michael Thompson

Returning to Augusta five years after calling a penalty on himself while near the cut line as an amateur.


62. Richard Sterne

Playing good golf coming into this week, with a win and four top-10s in his last seven global starts.


63. Paul Lawrie

Chose to forgo last year’s U.S. Open, but won’t skip the Masters, where he finished T-24 a year ago.


64. Trevor Immelman

His game has hit some hard times in recent years, but the swing still looks as sweet as ever.


65. Y.E. Yang

The man of many hybrids probably has his face on a dartboard at Woods’ house somewhere.


66. David Toms

Bad sign: His first-round exit at the Match Play – good for a T-33 result – is easily his best result of the season.


67. Ben Curtis

It’s been a trying year so far, with just one of 25 total rounds in the 60s.


68. Ryo Ishikawa

At some point, his performance will equal his potential, but we’ve only seen flashes of that so far.


69. a-Alan Dunbar

British Amateur champion recently won the Georgia Cup, giving him a nod over…


70. a-Steven Fox

… the U.S. Amateur champion, who plays collegiately at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


71. Thorbjorn Olesen

Terrific young player, but reportedly still hampered by injuries suffered in a car accident prior to Shell Houston Open.


72.Tom Watson

His name can’t even be mentioned in regard to a major anymore without thoughts automatically turning to the 2009 Open Championship.


73. Lucas Glover

Since winning the 2009 U.S. Open, he has a T-39 at the Masters and two missed cuts.


74. Tim Clark

When you’re as short as him off the tee, every other facet of your game has to be dead on at a course like this.


75. John Senden

Greens in regulation machine owns just one top-25 finish in nine PGA Tour starts so far this season.


76. John Huh

A vestige of the pre-FedEx Cup days, players can still get into the field by making the prior year’s Tour Championship, as Huh did.


77. D.A. Points

No finish better than 63rd in his first nine starts this year, then a victory, then right back to a 53rd last week.


78. Ted Potter, Jr.

This comes under the category of “Just Saying”: Five of the last 10 winners have been lefties.


79. Thomas Bjorn

Nine-time competitor finished in a share of 37th place last year after a four-year Masters absence.


80. a-Tianlang Guan

Call me crazy, but I think the 14-year-old with peachfuzz and a belly putter will exceed expectations this week.


81. Kevin Na

Hasn’t competed since withdrawing with a back injury after the first round of the Puerto Rico Open a month ago.


82. Mark O’Meara

Revealed recently that he checked his cell phone on the course at Augusta when Woods won at Bay Hill. Tsk-tsk.


83. Hiroyuki Fujita

Veteran is world’s 54th-ranked player and has won five times in Asia in the past two years.


84. Larry Mize

The story of an Augusta native winning his hometown event probably doesn’t get enough pub as one of the better sports tales in the past quarter-century.


85. Thaworn Wiratchant

Special invitation hung around the leaderboard at Doral for a few days before finishing in a share of 53rd place.


86. Ben Crenshaw

You know at some point he’ll roll in a 40-footer for birdie to delight the Augusta galleries.


87. a-Nathan Smith

Investment banker from Pittsburgh may have some top pros asking him for advice.


88. Mike Weir

Poor Weirsy. On the 10-year anniversary of his win, his game is at rock-bottom and he’s dealing with injuries.


89. Jose Maria Olazabal

Last year’s Ryder Cup captain could triple bogey every hole and still be smiling about that win at Medinah.


90. Craig Stadler

It’s a shame that he’s never gotten to play this event with his son Kevin, a longtime PGA Tour pro who has never qualified.


91. a-T.J. Vogel

One of the last of the USGA's Amateur Public Links champions, as the tourney will cease to exist after next year.


92. Ian Woosnam

Actually put together a valiant effort with a pair of 77s one year ago.


93. Sandy Lyle

Opening-round 86 last year was three strokes worse than any other score during that week.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Woods' message to young rivals: Bring it on!

By Randall MellAugust 13, 2018, 11:24 pm

Bring it on!

OK, I’m not fluent in body language, and maybe that’s not exactly what Tiger Woods was communicating with his exuberant fist pump after closing out a 64 Sunday at the PGA Championship, but there was so much hope in the excitement he let loose with his closing birdie.

Hope beyond what was still going on behind him at Bellerive.

Hope in what lies ahead.

Bring it on!

You know Woods wanted Brooks Koepka to hear his legion roar, to let Koepka know he better not stumble back there behind him. You know he also wanted Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and all today’s stars to hear all those roars, to let them know he’s finally fit for a fight again.

Bring it on!

Yes, Koepka refused to flinch, and Woods ultimately finished second, but that rollicking last fist pump told you what Sunday’s finish meant to Woods.

He’s going to win again.

That’s the confidence won closing the way he did, celebrating at the 72nd hole in a way we’ve only ever seen him do on his way to hoisting a trophy.

Because that’s where he is headed again.

He can and will win again.

Bring it on!

That’s the thrilling promise Sunday brought to all of golf.

Koepka wasn’t about to get out of Woods’ way, in the fashion the players of another era seemed to do when weekend roars preceded a Woods stampede. Koepka did today’s players a favor sending his own message. He was a rock. He didn’t flinch and didn’t fold in the wake of all those deafening Tiger roars.


PGA Championship: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


If Koepka flinches Sunday, it sends the wrong message to all these other young guys. It gives them all pause. It makes them all wonder if Tiger’s aura really does come with some unfair advantage, with a one- or two-shot advantage in his ability to ride the noisy chaos to heights they can’t. We heard more than one young star complain this spring about the boisterous crowds that followed Woods.

These young guys don’t need that in their heads.

So Koepka didn’t back down, and Johnson, Thomas, McIlroy, Spieth, Day, Fowler and Rahm aren’t likely to, either.

That’s the great fun Woods’ comeback brings. The battles all these young guys say they want with the legend are real possibilities now, with all those Tiger birdies and Tiger roars confirming Sunday that he is ready to begin giving them what they want.

“I’ve always wanted to battle it out in a major with Tiger,” Jordan Spieth said during The Open last month. “Who hasn’t? It’s kind of a dream come true, just to have the opportunity.”

The wonder in Sunday’s finish is that Woods was so good spraying his driver all over the place early in the round. Back in the day, he would have said he shot that 64 with his “B” game. You won’t hear him say things like that now, but the beauty in the round was knowing how he may have turned a 70 into a 64. It was in knowing how much better he still might get on these old legs.

It’s a shame we have to wait eight months for the Masters to see if his run of T-6 at The Open and 2nd at the PGA Championship continues on a majestic trajectory, because the message I heard in his last fist pump is still ringing in my ears.

Bring it on!

Getty Images

Eight Men, Four Women Advance to "Tennessee Big Shots," Airing Monday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. ET Live on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 13, 2018, 7:25 pm

Airing Live on Golf Channel, Fourth Televised Event of 2018 is Final Tour Stop Prior to Season-Culminating Volvik World Long Drive Championship

Field Boasts Six of Top-10 in World Led by No. 1 Justin James, Three-Time 2018 Winner Will Hogue; & Two-time World Champion Phillis Meti

The World Long Drive Association (WLDA) season continues tonight with the Tennessee Big Shots benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital, airing live at 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The live telecast will showcase the eight men and four women having advanced from preliminary rounds where they’ll compete in single-elimination matches until respective champions are crowned. The Open (Men’s) Division field will feature six of the top-nine competitors in the World Long Drive rankings, including No. 1 Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.) along with Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.), who has accumulated three wins to-date in 2018. The Women’s Division will feature two-time world champion Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand) and Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.,) who won the Clash in the Canyon earlier this year. Chloe Garner (Johnson City, Tenn.,) also is returning from injury in her first competition of 2018 in what will be a de-facto “home game,” while LPGA Tour player Emily Tubert (Burbank, Calif.) is the fourth semifinalist, competing in her first-ever WLDA competition.

“We’ve finally reached the home stretch of the season,” said Jonathan Coachman, play-by-play host for World Long Drive Association events on Golf Channel. “With the World Championship only weeks away, the competitors understand the need to be on their game. I’ve always said that champions show up anytime, anywhere, for anything. They better have that mind-set, beginning with tonight’s Tennessee Big Shots.

 

OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCHES (Seeded by world ranking):

(1) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.) vs. (25) Wes Patterson (St Louis, Mo.)

(5) Ryan Steenberg (Rochester, N.Y.) vs. (8) Paul Howell (Wilson, N.C.)

(4) Ryan Reisbeck (Layton, Utah) vs. (9) Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.)

(2) Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.) vs. (24) Stephen Kois (Wheaton, Ill.)

 

WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:

Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.) vs. Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand)

Chloe Garner (Johnson City, Tenn.) vs. Emily Tubert (Burbank, Calif.)

 

Being staged from Cattails at Meadowview Golf Course in Kingsport, Tenn., the inaugural event – in partnership with Ballad Health’s Niswonger Children’s Hospital – is the fourth WLDA event of 2018 scheduled to air live on Golf Channel. Tennessee Big Shots is being contested in association with the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Classic. The eventalso marks the penultimate WLDA competition of the year, with the season-culminating Volvik World Long Drive Championship taking place Aug. 30-Sept. 5.

COVERAGE: Live coverage of the Tennessee Big Shots will air on Golf Channel from 6-8 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 13, with Golf Central previewing the event from 5-6 p.m. ET. Encore showings of the competition are scheduled to air on Golf Channel following the live telecast, from 10 p.m.-Midnight ET and 12:30-2:30 a.m. ET.

The production centering around live coverage of the competition will utilize six dedicated cameras, capturing all angles from the hitting platform and the landing grid, including a SuperMo camera as well as two craned-positioned cameras that will track the ball in flight once it leaves the competitor’s clubface. An overlaid graphic line on the grid, the “DXL Big Drive to Beat,” (similar to the “1st & 10 line” made popular in football) will display the longest drive during a given match to signify the driving distance an opposing competitor will need to surpass to take the lead. The telecast also will feature a custom graphics package suited to the anomalous swing data typically generated by Long Drive competitors, tracking club speed, ball speed and apex in real-time via Trackman. Trackman technology also will provide viewers with a sense of ball flight, tracing the arc of each drive from the moment of impact.

BROADCAST TEAM: Veteran sports broadcaster Jonathan Coachman will conduct play-by-play alongside Art Sellinger, World Long Drive pioneer and two-time world champion (1986, ’91). Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz will offer reports from the teeing platform and conduct interviews with competitors in the field.

DIGITAL & SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Fans can stay up-to-date on all of the action surrounding the Tennessee Big Shots by following @GolfChannel and @WorldLongDrive on social media. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will be on-site contributing to the social conversation as the event unfolds, and, the telecast will integrate social media-generated content during live coverage using the hashtag, #WorldLongDrive.

Golf Channel Digital also will feature content from the Tennessee Big Shots leading up to and immediately following the live telecast.

 

2018 WORLD LONG DRIVE ASSOCIATION SCHEDULE:

DATE

EVENT

LOCATION

WINNER(S) / DEFENDING CHAMP

March 15-17

East Coast Classic

West Columbia, S.C.

Justin Moose

April 21-24

Clash in the Canyon (*Golf Channel*)

Mesquite, Nev.

Alexis Belton, Will Hogue

May 11-15

Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun (*Golf Channel*)

Maricopa, Ariz.

Phillis Meti, Will Hogue

June 4-5

Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash (*Golf Channel*)

Atlantic City, N.J.

Sandra Carlborg, Mark Costello

June 21-23

Bluff City Shootout

Memphis, Tenn.

Will Hogue

July 6-8

Bash For Cash

Port Rowan, Ont., Canada

Ryan Steenberg

August 2-4

WinStar Midwest Slam

Thackerville, Okla.

Kyle Berkshire

August 12-13

Tennessee Big Shots benefitting Niswonger Children’s Hospital (*Golf Channel*)

Kingsport, Tenn.

(New Event)

September 1-5

Volvik World Long Drive Championship (*Golf Channel*)

Thackerville, Okla.

Sandra Carlborg, Justin James

Showcasing the truly global nature of World Long Drive, several events throughout 2018 are staged through officially sanctioned WLDA international partners, including stops in Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom, along with an all-encompassing international qualifier for the Open Division of the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September.

Getty Images

Making Ryder Cup picks: Furyk begins his toughest task

By Rex HoggardAugust 13, 2018, 6:41 pm

ST. LOUIS – By the time Brooks Koepka teed off for the final round of the PGA Championship, Jim Furyk was already back at his rental house and settled in to watch what would be an eventful final round.

Furyk's day was just getting started.

Although he’d been up since dawn and had already put in a full day at Bellerive with a 7:56 a.m. tee time, Sunday began a process the U.S. Ryder Cup captain has prepared for and anticipated for two years.

“I didn’t get a lot of sleep this week,” Furyk conceded on Sunday following a closing 71 at Bellerive. “At times I found myself with my mind wandering. The afternoon tee times I’m sitting around in the morning and my mind starts wandering and I start looking at stats and start thinking about the Ryder Cup. There’s a million things going on.”

The American captain is officially on the clock. The final round of the year’s final major was the deadline to qualify for this year’s Ryder Cup team, and Furyk now begins the process of narrowing the list of potential captain’s picks.

Davis Love III, who took two turns in the captain’s chair, will tell you this is the toughest part of the gig. Forget about pairings and course setup and vice captains - getting the picks right is what separates a good captain from a great one.

“I saw him around this week kind of frazzled like I was; they are pulling him everywhere,” Love said. “Now it’s a tough couple of weeks. At dinner the other night we were talking about what we were going to do [regarding picks] and I was like, ‘Well, you have to wait for [Sunday] and you’ll get a better idea.”

On that front, the wait is over. The top eight players on the U.S. point list are now locked in and Furyk and his vice captains – Love, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods – can begin the artful process of creating a list of possible picks based on a wide variety of criteria.


PGA Championship: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


The automatic qualifiers are Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson, who held on to the final spot thanks to his tie for 19th at the PGA.

“For some guys we’re going to look at the body of work for a year, for some players we’re going to look at a hot player right now, some guys we’re going to look at pairings and how they fit into the team we have right now,” Furyk said.

Furyk will make three of his captain’s picks on Sept. 3 following the Dell Technologies Championship and his final selection a week later after the BMW Championship.

The short list of possible picks would include Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Woods, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner and Tony Finau, Nos. 9 through 15, respectively, on the final point list.

Schauffele and Finau had something of a playing interview at Bellerive when they were paired with Furyk for Rounds 1 and 2.

“Tony made a pile of birdies, he’s explosive as far as firepower and how far he hits it but I was impressed with his putting, to be honest with you. I knew he could hit it far and kind of knew how he played, but he really played well,” said Furyk, who also played with Finau on Saturday at the PGA.

Mickelson will be a particularly interesting option for Furyk. For the first time in his Ryder Cup career, which began in 1995, Lefty failed to qualify for the U.S. side and the de facto team room front man would be tough to pass over.

“His game has been in a good position all year, he’s putted great, I think Jason Day is the only player with better putting stats this year,” said Furyk, who met with Mickelson after he missed the cut in St. Louis. “He’s working on a couple of things in his game right now that we talked about.”

Woods also creates some interesting scenarios. His runner-up finish at the PGA vaulted him from 20th to 11th on the final point list and essentially assured what many believed to be a foregone conclusion. Woods will be among Furyk’s captain’s picks, the only real question when it comes to the 14-time major champion is whether he can play and drive a vice captain’s cart.

“He’s on that list we’ve talked about and I think we still need to hash that out,” Furyk said. “Is it possible [to do both jobs]? Sure, we just need to decide if that’s best for the team.”

If Woods and Mickelson have already been penciled in as picks, which many believe they have, that essentially leaves a half dozen players vying for the final two spots.

An 11th-hour charge over the next three weeks could certainly sway Furyk, and he’s made it clear that Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches outside of Paris, favors a certain type of game, think a fairways-and-greens type like Kisner or even Brian Harman, who finished 17th on the point list.

“I’ve taken a look at the golf course and what I think will really work,” Furyk said.

There’s also an undercurrent of interest in Furyk going young with his picks to give a player like DeChambeau or Schauffele a chance to experience the unique pressures of a Ryder Cup “road game,” but Furyk didn’t seem as interested in developing future talent as he is in winning.

“Our goals for long term are important and young blood is a good thing, but I would never sacrifice this team or 2018 for 2022,” he said. “The goal is still to go to Europe and try to retain the cup. That said, having a mix of veteran and young players is a good thing.”

If Furyk sounds a little vague when it comes to his potential picks it should be no real surprise. Getting the picks right is the most demanding part of any captain’s job and he’s just getting started.

Getty Images

Lowry calls out official over drop ruling at PGA

By Will GrayAugust 13, 2018, 6:00 pm

Despite the fact that Shane Lowry matched his best worldwide finish of the year at the PGA Championship, the Irishman didn't mince words over a frustrating ruling that played out late in the final round.

Lowry was 10 under and four shots behind Brooks Koepka when he stepped to the 16th tee, but he sailed his tee shot on the par-3 well right and behind a TV camera tower. What ensued was a lengthy delay as Lowry consulted with rules officials over whether he was entitled to a free drop and where he might take relief.

According to Lowry, the two officials failed to render a final decision and left it up to the player as to how to proceed. He eventually opted to play the ball from its original position next to the tower, pitching it into some rough in front of him and eventually making bogey. He also bogeyed the 17th, turning a possible top-5 finish into a tie for 12th.

"I think the referee didn't have the balls to make a decision there, and if he did I would have had an easier shot," Lowry told the Irish Times. "If you put (European Tour official) John Paramor or any of the good referees out there, and he would have given me full relief. But he wasn't giving me full relief, he was telling me to drop it in a tree basically."

Lowry's discussion with officials dragged on to the point that his playing competitor, Justin Thomas, opted to play out of turn with a pitch shot of his own. He also went on to make a bogey, but after the round told reporters that he didn't blame Lowry for how the situation played out.

"It had nothing to do with Shane. The rules officials were having a hard time coming up with a ruling," Thomas said. "They were kind of looking at each other and saying, 'Well, what do we do?' And Shane's like, 'Look, just tell me if I get a drop or not.' And I'm a quick player, and that's why I went."

Lowry's title chances were gone long before the rules fiasco, but his poor close had other ramifications. The 31-year-old's three-year exemption on the PGA Tour for winning the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational expires after this week's Wyndham Championship, and the T-12 finish at Bellerive only moved Lowry from No. 156 to No. 139 in the season-long points race with the top 125 retaining full cards for the 2019 season.