Burning Questions for the Remainder of the 2014 PGA Tour Season

Mike DudurichContributor IAugust 13, 2014

Burning Questions for the Remainder of the 2014 PGA Tour Season

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    Keegan Bradley has found plenty of rough patches this year but could be a Ryder Cup captain's choice.
    Keegan Bradley has found plenty of rough patches this year but could be a Ryder Cup captain's choice.Associated Press

    Five weeks remain in the PGA Tour season, starting with this week's Wyndham Championship.

    This is the final regular-season event before the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs, making it the last chances for players to qualify.

    There are questions to be answered before the final putt drops at the Ryder Cup.

    Things like how long can Rory McIlroy keep up his incredible streak?

    Can Tiger Woods really be considered a viable choice as a Ryder Cup captain's choice?

    Check out the list below of burning questions for the remainder of the 2014 PGA Tour season. 

How Long Can Rory McIlroy Continue to Dominate?

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    Rory McIlroy was definitely in the spotlight Sunday evening.
    Rory McIlroy was definitely in the spotlight Sunday evening.USA TODAY Sports

    Rory McIlroy is on top of everything: his game, the World Golf Ranking, the FedEx Cup points list, the PGA Tour money list, the Race to Dubai.

    He's won his last three starts, including back-to-back majors.

    McIlroy enters the FedEx Cup playoffs next week as the overwhelming favorite and will be limited only by fatigue or a drop in interest, neither of which seem likely. He wouldn't have to win all four playoff events to capture the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship, he'd just have to win the right ones.

    The chances of him winning all four playoff events? They would seem to be unlikely. For the record, Byron Nelson won 11 straight PGA Tour events in 1945, and Woods won seven in a row in 2006-07.

    The young man is driven, is in a groove and would love to finish off a spectacular year by winning the FedEx Cup and leading the European side to a win in the Ryder Cup.

    Pretty hard to bet against him doing all of that.

Who Will Step Up and Prove to Be Worthy of a Captain's Choice?

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    The Ryder Cup points list show Ryan Moore to be the best captain's choice.
    The Ryder Cup points list show Ryan Moore to be the best captain's choice.Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    The United States team for next month's Ryder Cup team is a bit of a mess at the moment.

    Nine players have locked up spots: Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson. 

    It's not certain how healthy Kuchar, who withdrew from the PGA Championship with a bad back, is or will be by the end of September. Walker, Spieth, Reed and Johnson have certainly not been playing at their best.

    Now, Tom Watson must make three captain's choices Sept. 2 to round out his team. The next three names on the points list are: Jason Dufner (who has bulging discs in his neck and withdrew from the PGA Championship), Ryan Moore and Brendon Todd. 

    Moore and Todd have never played in a Ryder Cup, but both have had good years in 2014 on the PGA Tour.

    Keegan Bradley is next in line, and he was good in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.

    It's going to be a tough couple of weeks for Watson, who is looking for players with heart, but would certainly like to have some of them playing well, too.

Is the Player of the Year Race Over?

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    Rory McIlroy won two majors and made a great save.
    Rory McIlroy won two majors and made a great save.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Before McIlroy went on a summer tear through golf, there was still some discussion that the race for PGA Tour player of the year was still alive.

    After all, Jimmy Walker had posted three wins early in the tour's wraparound 2013-14 season, Bubba Watson had won the Northern Trust Open and the Masters, and Martin Kaymer racked up victories in the Players Championship and the U.S. Open.

    Patrick Reed had also posted two wins, including the World Golf Championships-Doral Championship . It was there he declared himself a top-five player in the world and has subsequently dropped out of relevance.

    With wins in the British Open, the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, however, the reality is it's time to turn out the lights—the party's over.

    McIlroy has no peers when playing as he has the last month.

Has Phil Mickelson Really Found His Way Back?

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    Mickelson looked like the Phil of old at the PGA Championship.
    Mickelson looked like the Phil of old at the PGA Championship.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    In a perfect world, Mickelson's run of sparkling play will continue through the FedEx Cup playoffs where he'll battle the young stars on the PGA Tour and contend to the end.

    He'd also be the unequivocal leader on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, not only being a calming, veteran presence but piling up points and wins as well, leading the red, white and blue to a victory.

    Could that happen? Certainly. Will it happen? Who knows.

    Mickelson could tee it up in the first round of the Barclays next week and continue to stripe the ball as he did last week. Or he could revert to the form that kept him from posting a top-10 finish until last week.

    It won't take long once the playoffs begin to know whether Mickelson has found his way back.

Tiger Woods in Ryder Cup. Really?

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    Is this what we want to see during Ryder Cup competition?
    Is this what we want to see during Ryder Cup competition?Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    UPDATE: Woods has withdrawn his name from consideration for the captain's pick, as per an announcement on his website on Wednesday. 

    Woods withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and missed the cut at the PGA Championship. 

    He didn't qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs and has no scheduled competitive golf between now and the Ryder Cup.

    Watson, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, continues to fan the flames of making Woods a captain's choice, repeating the thought as recently as Monday: "He is Tiger Woods. He brings something to the team in a big way. He's been really good in the team room of recent, and he's a factor with the players. I know that for a fact. But the most important thing is, can he play? Can he physically play, and is he playing well?"

    The answers to those questions are: No, No and No.

    It figures to be an interesting couple weeks until Watson announces his picks Sept. 2.

Will Somebody Other Than McIlroy Win the FedEx Cup?

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    Only the occasional wild shot is keeping Rickie Fowler from hitting it big.
    Only the occasional wild shot is keeping Rickie Fowler from hitting it big.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    While the golf world expects McIlroy to roll through the FedEx Cup playoffs as he has rolled through his last three starts, the chances of him continuing this sort of dominance are iffy.

    And if he doesn't, the next best choice has to be Rickie Fowler. He finished top five in all four majors and is having his best season on the PGA Tour. 

    Beyond that, however, Fowler has had a spectacular season in the non-majors, posting seven top 10s in 22 starts (including the majors) and earning nearly $4 million.

    The game of golf never owes anyone anything, but it would be fitting that if someone else other than McIlroy were to win, it would be Fowler.