Even though the Ryder Cup is still a little more than five months from now, it’s not too early to start talking about it.
The two team captains, Tom Watson and Paul McGinley, are watching the standings and creating their short lists of possible picks.
Things appear to be a little more undecided for Watson. With Tiger Woods forced to take most of the summer off, recovering from back surgery, and four rookies currently at the top of the points list, he seems to have more variables.
With the first major in the books, the teams are beginning to take shape. The top nine players earn an automatic berth on Team USA. Currently Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Phil Mickelson and Harris English lead the points list.
A few players outside the top nine looking for a captain’s pick are Zach Johnson (10), Webb Simpson (12), Jim Furyk (17), Keegan Bradley (19) and Bill Haas (25). Watson can only choose three to round out the 12-man team.
Walker has been the hottest golfer on the PGA Tour this season with three wins, but he would be a Ryder Cup rookie. Other first-timers would include, Reed, Spieth and English.
Spieth was a captain’s pick on the 2013 Presidents Cup team that beat the Internationals at Muirfield Village last fall and is the only one of the three rookies with any international team experience.
The Europeans have many of the familiar names that have stymied the U.S. team over the past few meetings.
Victor Dubuisson, who performed magnificently at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, finishing runner-up to Jason Day, is leading the European points list with Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Bjorn and Henrik Stenson in the top four spots.
On the World Points list, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Luke Donald hold the automatic spots.
Lee Westwood, Stephen Gallacher, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jonas Blixt and Graeme McDowell are on the outside needing a captain’s pick from McGinley to make the team.
Although he is over 50 years old, Jimenez just finished fourth in the Masters. Westwood and McDowell have been standouts on Ryder Cup teams in the past.
Gallacher and Blixt would add some new blood to the already potent European Team.
Travel to the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland in September is at record levels. In an interview with Ann Mabry from Premier Golf, the exclusive provider of Ryder Cup golf travel, she told us packages are still available for golf fans, but many of her offerings are filling up.
She advised that anyone considering traveling to Scotland for the Ryder Cup in September get their travel and lodging booked as soon as possible.
With three majors left on the 2014 schedule, the teams will undoubtedly be changed and rearranged, but we are less than six months from one of the greatest team competitions in the world.