Golf

Ryder Cup Wild Card: BMW Championship

There are only two events left in the PGA Tour season, but that could be plenty of time to claim a spot on the US Ryder Cup team.

After this week’s BMW Championship, the top six in the US Ryder Cup rankings will qualify for Rome. Six captaincy choices will then be made after the Tour Championship. There are several players on the outside looking in, but a big week in the Tour’s penultimate event could help push them into the Ryder Cup conversation.

Here are four players outside the top 15 who could start a surge up the U.S. rankings with an early appearance at Olympia Fields and bolster their case for one of the 12 spots on Team USA’s roster.

Lucas Glover
Current Ryder Cup Ranking: 16
Minimum finish to top 12 in US rankings: Three-way tie for third

Over the past two weeks, Glover has sparked one of the biggest debates in golf: Should he make the Ryder Cup team?

“Right now, yes,” Glover said Sunday when asked if he would select himself for Team USA after his second win in as many weeks at the FedExCup St. Jude. “I play really good golf and I think I’d be pretty good in the team room and I’d be a good partner, so yeah, I definitely would.”

Entering the Wyndham Championship, the 43-year-old was 64th in the Ryder Cup rankings. Now, he’s 16th — and fourth in the FedExCup. To say he was hot might be an understatement. At the Memorial, Glover switched to a broomstick, which was a cure for the bites that had plagued him for a decade. Since July, Glover’s lowest finish, other than a missed cut at the 3M Open, is a T-6 at the John Deere Classic. He also has shot in the 60s in 21 of the last 22 rounds on Tour. His recent heater already has many supporters for the 2009 US Open champion to make his first Ryder Cup, but a strong finish to the season could secure it.

FedEx Championship St.  Jude - Final Round

Kurt Kitayama
Current Ryder Cup ranking: 17
Minimum finish to break into the top 12 in the US standings: Sole runner-up

The 30-year-old has lost half his cuts since winning at Bay Hill in March. However, if Kitayama can put together a good performance this week and get back into the Ryder Cup conversation, he could face those who are also vying for one of the final spots on the US team.

At last year’s Italian Open on the DP World Tour, contested at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the site of this year’s Ryder Cup, Kitayama was one of the few Americans in the field — and finished an impressive seventh. Meanwhile, many European Team villains have plenty of experience at Marco Simone and have posted strong results there. US captain Zach Johnson knows his team doesn’t get as many reps on Marco Simone as their counterparts, so he’s planning a scouting trip to Rome ahead of the Ryder Cup. Therefore, if Kitayama can finish the season, his success in Marco Simone can help him win a captaincy. But with his season in danger of ending early as he sits 33rd in the FedExCup, Kitayama must make a move to Olympia Fields. Perhaps, this sends him to Rome.

GOLF: AUGUST 10 PGA - FedEx St. Louis Championship  Jude

Russell Henley
Current Ryder Cup Ranking: 21st
Minimum finish to break into the top 12 in the US standings: Sole runner-up

Aside from Glover, Henley might be the hottest player in the sport, with second and T-6 finishes the past two weeks. Now, it comes to a course that requires accuracy off the tee (BMW’s 2020 field hit 48% of its drives), which should be music to Henley’s ears because he leads the Tour this season in driving accuracy . Sitting 15th in the FedExCup, the 34-year-old has booked a Tour Championship spot for the first time in six years. However, continuing his hot streak at Olympia Fields, where he placed T-25 in 2020, will certainly help him earn a spot on Team USA.

FedEx Championship St.  Jude - Round 1

Tony Finau
Current Ryder Cup Ranking: 21st
Minimum finish to break into the top 12 in the US rankings: Win

Playoffs Tony didn’t get off to the start he’d hoped, finishing 64th in Memphis and dropping two spots in the US rankings. Luckily for him, he finished fifth at Olympia Fields in 2020 and was one of only five players under par. He finished fourth in driving distance that week, but T-66 in driving accuracy. A little cleaner off the tee this time, and Finau, who had his first top-10 since April at the 3M Open late last month, could regain his playoff dominance (15 top-10s postseason since 2017) and advance to a third consecutive Ryder Cup nod.


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