By Paul Myers
The Barclays marked not only the start of the PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs, but also the last opportunity for players to earn points toward qualification for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Contested over the difficult Bethpage Black golf course in Farmingdale, NY, The Barclays had plenty of drama – and there was plenty on the line for some of the top players in the world. In the end, it was Patrick Reed posting a final round 70 to claim the title by a single stroke over Emiliano Grillo and Sean O’Hair. In addition to moving into the top spot in the FedEx Cup race, Reed also claimed a secure spot on the Ryder Cup team.
Two Thirds of the Team Set
With a month to go until the Ryder Cup commences, the U.S team has eight of its twelve spots spoken for. In addition to Patrick Reed, the other players who have automatically qualified are Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, and Zach Johnson. Just missing the automatic qualifying cut were Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes, Rickie Fowler, and Matt Kuchar. The miss was particularly painful for Fowler, who could have played his way onto the team Sunday at Bethpage, but failed to do so after posting a final round 74. Fowler made two bogeys and a double within his last four holes, sealing his fate as a player who will need to be picked by Captain Davis Love III if he is to participate in the event.
Time Left to Make a Statement
For those players who are hoping to grab one of the last four spots on the team, there is still time to make a statement – assuming they have a spot in the remaining FedEx Cup Playoff events. Including the Tour Championship, there are three events left on the schedule for the 2015-2016 season. While three picks will be made after the conclusion of the BMW Championship on September 11, the final pick will be held until the Tour Championship has been finished just a few days before the Ryder Cup is set to begin. Waiting until that point on the calendar will allow for the pick to potentially go to the ‘hot hand’, possibly giving the U.S. team the best available player for the job.
Of course, whoever winds up filling out the rest of the U.S. team will have their hands full, as Europe has dominated the event in recent years. Europe has won three events in a row, and comes into the 2016 playing of the event with the clear edge in terms of talent. Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, and many more will headline a powerful European team that will have to be seen as the favorite when the matches begin in Minnesota.