Rookies occupy 5 of 10 spots for US Presidents Cup team
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 02, 2017 08:00 AM
Charley Hoffman of the United States prepares to putt on the 4th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship, at Royal Birkdale, Southport, England, Saturday July 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — With just over a month remaining to qualifying for the Presidents Cup, this is shaping up as a new American team.
Charley Hoffman's playoff loss in the Canadian Open moved him to No. 10 in the standings, which is based on FedEx Cup points. That gives the U.S. team five players from the top 10 who have never competed in a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup. The others are Justin Thomas (No. 3), Daniel Berger (No. 4), Kevin Kisner (No. 7) and Kevin Chappell (No. 9). U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is No. 5 and has never played the Presidents Cup, though he played the Ryder Cup last fall.
U.S. captain Steve Stricker could see this coming.
He was an assistant to Davis Love III at Hazeltine last year. Thomas and Berger were invited to play the Minnesota course ahead of the final picks, though neither of them was chosen. The last pick went to Ryan Moore, another Cup rookie.
"You could see the change there, even though some of them didn't play," Stricker said. "You can see the movement is definitely going to younger, powerful players."
Right behind them is a blend of experience (Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker) and new (Brian Harman, Gary Woodland). The top 10 players qualify after the Dell Technologies Championship on Sept. 4.
That could have a bearing on how Stricker uses his captain's picks.
"It concerns me a little bit that we have a lot of rookies," he said. "But it also excites me what I'm seeing from them. They're very courageous, they're feisty, they're making clutch putts when they have to. It just shows a lot of guts. These guys are playing well and showing a little attitude when they're doing it, which is nice to see, especially in match play."
Phil Mickelson has dropped to No. 17. His best finish this year was reaching the quarterfinals of the Dell Technologies Match Play. Mickelson has never missed a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup since 1994, and he had to rely on a captain's pick for only the second time in his career in 2015. He went 3-0-1 for the week.
Stricker said he told Mickelson to give him good reasons to pick him if Lefty doesn't make it on his own.
"And he told me flat out he's going to make his way inside the top 10," Stricker said. "He feels like he's playing that well, he just needs to score a little bit better and see some putts to go in. But he's not worried about sneaking his way into the top 10."