A rare bye week on the PGA Tour means no cut this Friday, but we’ve got you covered with more than enough winners, losers and others to carry the golf world through the break.
The right Price. International captain Nick Price is still more than a month away from his second turn as skipper and already he has scored some metaphorical points for the rest of the world.
Price selected Steven Bowditch, an in-form rookie who makes a ton of birdies which is crucial during these international team events, and Sangmoon Bae, a South Korean star-in-waiting who is due to report for 21-months of mandatory military service at the end of this season.
Although Bae was likely a difficult choice given the political volatility of his situation, Price took a gamble that will pay off in home-crowd support and potentially crucial points.
Price also received an assist from one of his veterans. Ernie Els, a staple on nearly every International team since 1996, was in a similar position to Phil Mickelson on the points list but removed any potential urge for the International captain to make a similarly sentimental choice.
“I told Nick, I said, ‘Please don’t think of my experience and all my Presidents Cup play that I’m putting any pressure on you to pick me. Pick who you have to pick. Pick who is best for the team,’” Els said.
This may not be the year the Internationals turn the tide in what has become a biennial blowout, but it won’t be the result of a lack of effort from Price.
Playoff progress. Golf’s version of postseason pressure has always been relative.
For some, just making it to The Barclays, the first playoff stop, is a measure of success and job security, with the drawback for those not advancing to all four postseason events a few weeks off and a full PGA Tour card in 2015-16.
For Hunter Mahan, however, the pressure was very real, if not self-imposed, as he scrambled to keep his playoff hopes alive on Monday. Mahan is the only player to have participated in every postseason event in the FedEx Cup era.
Mahan closed with rounds of 64-70 to tie for fourth place, his first top-5 finish in 2015, and moved from 91st on the point list to 52nd and into next week’s BMW Championship.
“It's the goal of every player to be in the Tour Championship at the end of the year. I'm proud of that and I want to continue that this year,” Mahan said at TPC Boston.
Mahan still has work to do if he’s going to keep his streak alive and earn a spot at East Lake, but the pressure seems to be exactly what he needed to kick start his season.
Tweet of the week:
Thanks for all the support from my fans. Truly means a lot. My day will come when I make a team. Go USA!!! #RedWhiteAndBlue— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) September 8, 2015
Horschel was bypassed, again, for a potential captain’s pick at No. 14 on the U.S. point list.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Captain’s choice. To be clear, no one “deserves” to be a captain’s pick. The only way to assure yourself a spot on any team is to qualify, so the idea that someone was somehow slighted by this week’s selections is misguided.
A pick is, with apologies to all of those who carry Walkie Talkies and motor around in customized golf carts, a captain’s most important job.
Captain’s picks rarely emerge as the Man of the Match, but they can turn out to be liabilities – Greg Norman’s selection of Adam Scott during the 2009 matches when the Australian went 1-4 immediately comes to mind – and Jay Haas’ decision to go with a comfort pick in Phil Mickelson feels like the latter.
This isn’t about making room for the next generation or what other players “deserved” a pick ahead of Mickelson, this is about doing what’s best for the American team and given Lefty’s record the last two years it’s hard to say he was the right man.
Postseason swoon. While Mahan was one of four players to move into the top 70 with their play at last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, Sergio Garcia will also be in the field at Conway Farms, but his journey to the BMW took a vastly different road.
The Spaniard sat out the first two playoff stops and has dropped from 31st to 54th on the point list.
According to Garcia’s manager, he simply wanted some extra time off and that’s certainly his prerogative, but he will need a big week at the BMW if he’s going to advance to East Lake for the fourth consecutive year otherwise he could have simply taken the entire month off.
Something is rank-ing. Rory McIlroy didn’t play The Barclays and reclaimed the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking from Jordan Spieth. Spieth missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship and jumped ahead of the Northern Irishman on Monday.
What’s next, Jason Day overtakes both would-be alpha males by playing his final 18 holes left-handed in his next start?
Actually, McIlroy will regain the No. 1 ranking this week despite the world’s best players remaining idle this week.
It’s always tough to criticize the ranking, however complicated it might be, because there’s never been an easier, more straightforward way of determining the world order.
There is still no magic bullet when it comes to the ranking math, but there certainly must be something that makes more sense than the current model.