THE EUROPEAN HOPEFULS
The European qualifying period will come to a close on September 3 after the European Masters. Six players will come from the European Points List followed by three from the World Points List. Captain Luke Donald will then select a further six players to round out the 12-man team.
IS STRAKA NOW ON THE PLANE?
Given the lack of automatic spots Sepp Straka may well need a captain’s pick and this week – a fantastic share of second place – will have done him a power of good. The John Deere victory, impressive as it was, remains just another week on the calendar. This was top-table stuff at the very business end of things and the Austrian was fantastic.
He absolutely revels in approach play (and all-round driving) so you might imagine that Captain Donald will have earmarked him for a couple of foursomes starts. A month ago Straka seemed to be slipping away from becoming the second Austrian, after Bernd Wiesberger, now he looks to be on his way to Rome.
"It would be huge. It would be amazing. It's been a huge goal. Over the last year and a half really it's been on my radar, and really looking forward to having a chance. He (Luke) was here earlier this week in the practice rounds. He came and saw me on one of the days. Just small talk for the most part. Scheduling, all that stuff.
"He's told me I've been on his radar for a while now, and hopefully I can take advantage of some good play the next few months and make the decision easy for him."
IS MERONK IN POLE POSITION?
Adrian Meronk recorded his best finish in a Major, helped by a closing 67. Most observers seem to be giving the Pole the nod no doubt helped by his one-shot win at the host venue in May, his third win on Tour in less than a year.
"It's definitely in the back of my mind for sure. I don't want to get ahead of myself but I would love to make that team in September. I know there's still a lot of time. Going to take some rest now and get ready for the final stretch, to be honest, for qualifications, so yeah, hopefully I'll make it."
Born in Germany he'll likely be the first Pole to represent Europe.
ARE PAUL AND POWER NOW OUT OF THE RUNNING?
Yannik Paul has long felt like the sort of player who is in the automatic slots for some time and, as soon as he drops out, then he’s done for. Much of this is based on a mix of not measuring up on the eye test and also down to our ignorance. The German has one win, last year in Mallorca, and back-to-back second places this year in Thailand and India. If you were looking for some course form then was a T23 at Marco Simone in May.
Seamus Power was inside the world’s top 30 in May but a hip injury and a drop in form just at the wrong time might have scuppered his chances. This was his third straight missed cut in the Majors – in Liverpool he was under par halfway through his front nine before missing out by one.
“This is probably the best I felt in my game for a long time. It's kind of just golf being golf at the moment. It's kind of frustrating but it happens.”
Needs a big few weeks to impress Donald again.
WHO MISSED OUT ON A BIG MOVE?
Nicolai Hojgaard shot 74 on Sunday, Antoine Rozner a 75 and they could have made a very big move had they been able to produce something special on Sunday. In truth it's going to be tricky to claim one of three European spots now and this was a week of little to and fro in the European ranks.
Which might well mean that this has been a big week for Bob MacIntyre despite his lowly finish.
THE US HOPEFULS
The US qualifying period will culminate after the second FedEx Cup Playoff event at the BMW Championship on August 20 with six players getting an automatic spot. Then Zach Johnson will complete the side after the Tour Championship the following week with six picks.
BRIAN, HOW'S YOUR ITALIAN?
Of the many perks of winning The Open a week in Italy is one of the sweetest. Despite his stellar play in recent weeks we haven't heard too many mentions of Brian Harman as a possible pick from Johnson. Now he will be heading to Rome to make his Ryder Cup debut and, given the way that he hits the ball off the tee and, particularly, putts he will be sent out in the foursomes.
He's talked about having missed out on various teams in the past but that's all now in the past. Brian Harman, welcome to the Ryder Cup – he will be the third left-hander to represent the United States.
WHERE DOES JT STAND?
Ryder Cup skipper Zach Johnson was sharing a house this week with Justin Thomas. Their tee times meant that they didn’t see a lot of one another after Wednesday and, come Friday, Thomas was on his way home. His Thursday featured a wretched 11-over 82 which concluded with a nine. Other than the odd week this season has been fairly forgettable for Thomas but, if you were to pencil in one player who will almost certainly come alive in the team arena, then it’s him. And we know that Jordan Spieth will be there in Rome and that they will be inseparable. When you have a pairing like this then you stick all your eggs in their basket and take a gamble, of sorts.
Thomas battled back with a 71 on Friday and there’s still time for him to turn things around and show a glimpse of some better form which should be enough to get the nod.
HOW MANY LIV PLAYERS WILL BE IN ROME?
We all know how key the Major weeks are for the LIV players and this was a last chance to impress on the biggest stage. Brooks Koepka has already done enough in the big ones to settle himself well inside the automatic spots but that should be it for the breakaway stars. Dustin Johnson went 5-0-0 at Whistling Straits and would no doubt team up with Collin Morikawa but his form won’t merit a place. Likewise Bryson DeChambeau and, despite the three wins this term, Talor Gooch’s star now seems to be dipping.
Captain Johnson doesn’t seem to have any plans to make it to a LIV event so it seems that only Koepka will be part of the LIV crowd to line up for Team USA.
IS YOUNG SET FOR HIS DEBUT?
Cam Young was part of the Presidents Cup side in 2022, he twice partnered Morikawa, and now he might have timed his run to get the nod from Johnson. In the past two seasons he has finished inside the top 10 in half his starts.
The only bizarre absentee from his CV is a win on the PGA Tour but his length, mentality and all-round skills should see him part of the US plans.
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Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.
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