Stock Watch for US Ryder Cup Candidates After 2014 British Open

Ben AlberstadtFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2014

Stock Watch for US Ryder Cup Candidates After 2014 British Open

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    U.S. Ryder Cup candidates are running out of time to state their cases.

    The top nine Ryder Cup point earners (under the Ryder Cup points system) from the 2013 Masters through the 2014 PGA Championship punch their tickets to compete for country at Gleneagles at the end of September. Captain Tom Watson will announce his three picks in early September.

    With only three weeks until Ryder Cup rosters are finalized, we can safely assume that the top six players have secured their spots.

    So, we'll turn our attention toward the spots that are still up for grabs and the captain's picks.

    Here are the current Ryder Cup points standings via RyderCup.com.

    1. Bubba Watson: 6,828.138
    2. Jimmy Walker: 5,510.205
    3. Rickie Fowler: 5,403.253
    4. Jim Furyk: 5,259.594
    5. Dustin Johnson: 5,133.807
    6. Jordan Spieth: 4,781.827
    7. Matt Kuchar: 4,764.065
    8. Jason Dufner: 3,516.345
    9. Zach Johnson: 3,450.894
    10. Patrick Reed: 3,301.393
    11. Phil Mickelson: 3,252.838
    12. Brendon Todd: 3,250.483
    13. Chris Kirk: 3,226.883
    14. Ryan Moore: 3,118.872
    15. Webb Simpson: 3,086.070

    Who among the bubble players could make the squad? Who are the front-runners for the captain's picks?

    Click through to see.

Stock Up: Phil Mickelson

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    Phil Mickelson was unsuccessful in his bid to claim a second consecutive Claret Jug. However, he didn't let an opening-round 74 at Hoylake sink him, and he followed with rounds of 70, 71 and 68, finishing tied for 23rd.

    Regarding the Sunday 68, Bob Harig of ESPN quoted the golfer as saying, "It was actually a good day for me to kind of get a little bit of confidence, and know that I can get the scores out of it that I feel I deserve and not have to press heading into Akron [WGC-Bridgestone Invitational] and the PGA."

    Mickelson hit an impressive 73.6 percent of greens in regulation for the week and 64.3 percent of fairways.

    With the performance, the left-hander moves into 11th position in the points standings (up from 12th). The veteran has to merit serious consideration from captain Watson, and one must think Mickelson's presence in the locker room would have a positive effect on the team as well, something Watson is sure to consider.

Stock Down: Tiger Woods

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    The only reason Tiger Woods deserves to make the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team: He's Tiger Woods.

    At Hoylake, where he won so triumphantly in 2006, Woods struggled mightily. After an opening-round 69, the former world No. 1 didn't come close to breaking 70 in any of the following rounds. He followed up the 69 with rounds of 77, 73 and 75.

    Of the golfers who made the cut (which Woods did on the number), only three had worse final tallies than Woods. The 69th-place finish was the second-worst showing at the tournament of Woods' career.

    As he's made just five starts this season, Woods is nowhere near the top of the list of Ryder Cup contenders.

    With his performance at Royal Liverpool, he hasn't done anything to inspire captain Tom Watson to pick him. And even worse for Woods: Watson finished tied for 51st, five strokes better than his potential captain's pick.

Stock Up: Chris Kirk

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    Competing in his first Open Championship, Chris Kirk finished tied for 19th at six under. He shot weekend rounds of 68 and 69 to add a third top-30 finish to his tally at the majors this year.

    Kirk has been making a case for himself all season long. Between his win at the McGladrey Classic and his 21 of 22 cuts made, the Georgia native has been impressive.

    He moves from 14th to 13th in the Ryder Cup points standings after his top-20 finish at Hoylake. Kirk is nearing a spot in the top nine. With inspired play from now through the PGA Championship, he could earn a roster spot.

    If he doesn't play his way onto the team, Kirk still makes for an interesting captain's pick.

Stock Down: Harris English

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    Harris English missed the cut at the Open Championship, firing rounds of 72 and 76 to finish two strokes outside the cut line at Hoylake.

    The showing is a disappointment, as English tied for 15th at Muirfield last year. The Georgia native has now missed the cut in two of three majors this year.

    His win at the OHL Mayakoba Classic earlier this year and seven top-10 finishes have positioned English 12th in the FedEx Cup standings. However, the missed cut at Royal Liverpool dropped him from 15th to 17th in the Ryder Cup points standings.

    English seems unlikely to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team, and he's heading in the wrong direction to merit consideration as a captain's pick.

Stock Up: Brendon Todd

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    Brendon Todd's Ryder Cup stock is up following his tie for 39th at the Open Championship. Prior to the competition, the Pittsburgh native was 11th in the Ryder Cup points standings. He was leapfrogged by Phil Mickelson and fell a spot in the standings this week.

    Still, his showing at Hoylake wasn't a bad one, considering this was Todd's first Open Championship. If captain Watson merely selected the three players immediately outside the top nine spots in the standings as captain's picks, Todd would make the squad.

    Entering the Open Championship, Todd had finished inside the top 10 in five of his previous six starts: very impressive, and sure to be something Tom Watson considers if Todd's good play continues.

Stock Down: Webb Simpson

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    Webb Simpson's Ryder Cup stock is down after a poor showing at Hoylake. Simpson carded rounds of 76 and 77 to miss the cut. On the plus side, at least he can say he recorded the same cut-missing total as Sir Nick Faldo.

    Simpson didn't sniff the cut line, and the showing was a second disappointing Open Championship for the North Carolina native, who finished tied for 64th last year.

    A third-place finish at the Greenbrier Classic in his last start prior to the Open suggested Simpson would do well at Hoylake. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The former Ryder Cup team member has fallen from 13th to 15th in the points standings after the missed cut in Liverpool.

Stock Up: Zach Johnson

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    A tie for 47th at the Open Championship has Zach Johnson's Ryder Cup stock ticking up slightly.

    Johnson earned Ryder Cup points with the finish and remains in the ninth spot in the points standings. If the PGA Championship (and thus the points race) ended July 21, Johnson would earn the last roster spot on the squad.

    Johnson entered the Open on a hot streak, recording a second-place finish at the John Deere Classic. Although his performance at Hoylake wasn't the best, the three-time Ryder Cup team member is holding on to his spot.

Stock Down: Patrick Reed

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    Not surprisingly, as Patrick Reed missed the cut in Liverpool, his stock is moving downward. On the Ryder Cup bubble at 10th in the points standings, Reed would miss out on earning a roster spot if the PGA Championship ended July 21.

    Reed's opening-round 78 was too deep of a hole to dig himself out of during the second round at Hoylake, where he recorded a one-under 71. It was his first trip across the pond for the competition.

    The Texas native had made two straight cuts prior to the Open, notching a tie for 11th at the Quicken Loans National. He'll need a run of strong play to unseat any of the players above him by the PGA Championship.

Stock Up: Rickie Fowler

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    Rickie Fowler's brilliant showing at Hoylake has his stock moving up. Following his tie for second, Fowler jumped from seventh to third in the Ryder Cup points standings.

    The orange-o-phile was excellent at Royal Liverpool, as he was at Pinehurst No. 2 for the U.S. Open in June, where he also finished tied for second. The pair of near wins in majors has to impress his captain.

    With his four-spot jump in the standings this week, Fowler has virtually assured he'll earn a spot on Tom Watson's team in August.

Stock Flat: Jason Dufner

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    Jason's Dufner's Ryder Cup stock remains stagnant after a tie for 51st at the Open Championship. Dufner remains in the eighth spot in the Ryder Cup points list, the spot he occupied entering the tournament.

    The Auburn alum missed the cut in his last PGA Tour starts prior to the Open Championship, a fact that doesn't do much for his Ryder Cup stock. Still, the 2013 PGA Championship winner is perched in the penultimate spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup roster as it stands at the moment.

    If he has a strong stretch of play over the next few weeks, he'll make his second U.S. Ryder Cup team.