10 Under-the-Radar Players Who Could Make the 2015 US Presidents Cup Team

Joe SteigmeyerFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2015

10 Under-the-Radar Players Who Could Make the 2015 US Presidents Cup Team

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The 2015 Presidents Cup is exactly 75 days away starting on Thursday, October 8, but the date is about all that’s set in stone when it comes to the United States’ plan of duplicating its 2013 triumph over the international team.

    Though the process is nearing its end, there are still months of FedEx Cup points to sort out before the top 10 Americans in the standings can be determined. Tour players have been collecting those points since the BMW Championship in 2013 and will continue to fight for pole position through the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship (September 4-7).

    Immediately after that event, U.S. captain Jay Haas and his assistants Fred Couples and Davis Love III will have a total of two captain’s picks to make on September 8 to finalize the squad.

    But who’s most likely to be on Hass’ short list in two months' time? Which players are on the cusp of breaking into the top 10 after two years of diligently compiling FedEx Cup points for a shot at international glory?

    Well, guys like J.B. Holmes, Brandt Snedeker and Robert Streb are all poised to crack that list, but they could hardly be considered "under the radar." So far this season, Snedeker has eight top-10 finishes, while Streb has seven, and Holmes has five (not to mention each of them has also won an event this season and featured in the top 10 of last week’s British Open).

    But others have been playing well—just not quite so prominently.

    Let’s take a look at 10 surprising players who have been putting in the work behind the scenes over the last two years and quietly inching their way into contention for the 2015 U.S Presidents Cup team.

Charley Hoffman

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    Points: 3,863

    Current Rank: 12

    Charley Hoffman was almost grouped with Holmes, Snedeker and Streb, since he won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Mexico, (worth 500 points) last November and tied for second at the AT&T Byron Nelson (208 points) at the end of May.

    However, he has started to stumble down the stretch—and that could allow others on this list to leapfrog him into the top 10.

    Hoffman has only played in two events since May. Granted, it would be an understatement to say both the conditions and competition were tough at the U.S. Open and British Open, but the fact remains he missed both cuts.

    When it comes to FedEx Cup points, missing two cuts translates to a big, fat zero. And when you’re this close to the finish line, momentum is crucial. He still has time to regain his rhythm, though, and every event from here on out could be make-or-break.

    Hoffman may have hit a momentary slump, but it is an understandable one. The fact that he sits just outside the top 10 in FedEx Cup standings means it's a slump he can survive and still make the team outright on points with some good performances down the stretch.

Billy Horschel

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    Points: 3,828

    Current Rank: 13

    Billy Horschel has only two top-10 finishes so far this season, but he’s kept himself near the top of the standings by choosing quantity over quality.

    Since November of 2014, Horschel has played in 24 events (almost all of which awarded FedEx Cup points). He has only earned triple-digit points at an event once in the last calendar year—190 from a third-place finish at the Valero Texas Open—but he has managed to pick up double-digit points at the overwhelming majority of events.

    What’s more, Horschel hasn’t missed a cut since the Masters and has finished in the top 25 in six of the last seven points-awarding events.

    That’s a solid streak heading into the final weeks of qualification.

    As things stand, Horschel is 158 points behind Rickie Fowler, who is ranked No. 10 in the standings. Since Fowler has emerged as something of a force after picking up two trophies in the last three months, Horschel will have to find another gear to overtake this year’s Scottish Open champ.

    He won’t need an overhaul of his game—just a little extra push as he grinds out some slightly higher finishes.

Bill Haas

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Points: 3,681

    Current Rank: 16

    Bill Haas had a valuable win at the Humana Challenge in January. He added to that by tying for seventh at the WGC-Cadillac (worth 92 points) in March and tying for fourth at the Players Championship (worth 135 points) in early May.

    Aside from those results, though, Haas hasn’t exactly been as methodical as Horschel when it comes to collecting points. 

    He has five missed cuts and only three top-10 finishes so far this season. Focusing on his most recent performances, it’s clear things have gone from bad to worse for Haas.

    He has missed the cut at his last three events (the U.S. Open, Greenbrier Classic and British Open), which means he has picked up zero points in the past month-and-a-half and lost all semblance of momentum.

    Haas isn’t dead in the water, but he desperately needs a win sometime in August to launch up the FedEx Cup leaderboard. Considering he made an impressive run during that same period last year (tied for second at the Wyndham Championship, tied for 15th at the Barclays and tied for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship), it’s clear that task is well within his wheelhouse.

Ryan Moore

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Points: 3,680

    Current Rank: 17

    Ryan Moore registered a win at the CIMB Classic back in November 2014. However, aside from a fifth-place finish at the Valspar Championship five months later, his 2015 has been up and down at best.

    Since the start of May, Moore has broken the top 40 only twice in seven tries. He’s also missed the cut three times—including both majors—over that period.

    There’s still plenty of time for him to get back on the horse with some top finishes like Bill Haas did last year, but PGA Tour history buffs won’t be so optimistic.

    Around this time in 2014, Moore had recorded finishes of tied for fifth at the Travelers Championship, tied for seventh at the John Deere Classic and tied for 12th at the British Open. He added to those points with a promising eighth-place tie at the WGC-Bridgestone (which runs from August 6-9 this year), but then he only managed to tie for 40th at the PGA Championship, missed the cut at the Barclays and placed 73rd at the Deutsche Bank.

    Moore is still sitting on a solid foundation of points, but he’ll need to improve on last year’s performances at these crucial upcoming events to stand a shot of making the team.

Kevin Na

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Points: 3,572

    Current Rank: 18

    Like Billy Horschel, Kevin Na is another player who is pursuing FedEx Cup points through sheer quantity of events.

    Na has 10 top-25 finishes and only two missed cuts and one withdrawal. Out of those 10, only one was in the top three (he tied for second at the CIMB Classic in November). Recently, he’s only missed one cut in the past four months.

    Na has also added to his points total over that period by tying for sixth at the Players (105 points) and 10th at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (62 points).

    He looks to be making a noticeably improved run down the final stretch this year compared to last year, which could be the difference in securing a captain’s pick if he can’t quite crack the top 10.

Webb Simpson

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Points: 3,467

    Current Rank: 19

    After starting the calendar year off right with a 13th-place finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii, Webb Simpson has made much of the double-points bonus for FedEx Cup events in 2015.

    He tied for seventh at the Humana Challenge in January, finished the same at the WGC-Cadillac in March and came in tied for second at the Wells Fargo Championship in May.

    However, Simpson stumbled with missed cuts at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and the Greenbrier Classic. He also hasn’t managed to break into the top 40 at any tournament since May.

    Much like Kevin Na, Simpson will be hoping for a big result or two in August and September. If he can replicate his top-10 finishes at the Wyndham and Deutsche Bank Championships from last year while avoiding his missed cut at the Barclays, he’ll put his name in Jay Haas’ hat for captain’s pick consideration.

Gary Woodland

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    Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

    Points: 3,434

    Current Rank: 20

    We’re now thoroughly on the periphery of players who are hoping to make it onto the U.S. President’s Cup team.

    Granted, a single win could catapult any one of these pros who are in the upper teens/low 20s of the FedEx Cup standings near (or past) No. 10 Rickie Fowler (3,995 points), but that would also require those above them to stall almost entirely in their respective quests for points.

    What’s more likely is a shot at a captain’s pick that can be earned through a consistently high level of play—though not necessarily requiring trophies—starting now and continuing through September 8.

    This scenario puts Gary Woodland in an odd position. He has registered four top-10 finishes this season, including tying for third at the Sony Open in Hawaii, tying for second at the CIMB Classic and finishing second at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play in May. However, he has also missed seven cuts, including four of his last nine and two of his last four.

    With that polarizing record, Woodland seems like something of a risk for the captain's consideration. While a win in the next month would give him serious points and propel him near the top 10, another missed cut or two in the same run could negate those gains and knock him out of contention for a captain’s pick on the basis of inconsistency.

Kevin Kisner

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Points: 3,356

    Current Rank: 21

    Kevin Kisner is another player with an odd resume this season.

    He has six top-10 finishes—including three in second place—but he also missed a string of four consecutive cuts from mid-January to the start of March. It’s a sizable blip on the radar from a captain’s perspective, but it may be considered a blip nonetheless when looking at the bigger picture.

    After those difficult six weeks, Kisner came in second in a playoff at the RBC Heritage, finished second in another playoff at the Players behind winner Rickie Fowler, tied for fifth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, tied for eighth at the Memorial Tournament, tied for 12th at the U.S. Open and came in second after yet another playoff at the Greenbrier.

    True, he missed the cut at the British Open last week, but that was the first time in 10 events Kisner had failed to make it to the weekend. Otherwise, his resume boasts four top-10 finishes in the past two months—a record that should garner confidence from Captain Haas.

    As far as captain’s picks are concerned at this juncture, Kevin Kisner should be right near the top of the list, despite the fact he ranks only No. 21 in the official standings.

Brendon Todd

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Points: 3,294

    Current Rank: 22

    Brendon Todd has had an unremarkable season for the most part, but he looks to be turning things around at the last minute.

    After being cut from the U.S. Open, Todd tied for 15th at the Travelers Championship, tied for sixth at the Greenbrier and tied for 12th at the British Open. He’ll take extra confidence from that last finish and, ideally, translate it into low scores on courses with friendlier weather conditions over the next month.

    At least, that’s what he'll have to do if he wants to make the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

    As things stand, Todd will likely need a pair of wins (or comparable points) from the next four tour events to be competitive on points alone—and that isn’t terribly likely. If he manages to string together a few top-10 finishes between now and the Deutsche Bank, though, he will have a case with momentum on his side.

Brooks Koepka

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Points: 3,003

    Current Rank: 25

    Finally, let’s drop down the Presidents Cup standings just a bit to give a nod to 24-year-old Brooks Koepka for his 2015 season so far. 

    The young pro had only two top-10 finishes in all of 2014, but he discovered a new gear for the 2015 season. He has already recorded five top-10 finishes, including a win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February and a tie-for-third finish at the FedEx St. Jude Classic just last month.

    He then followed that up with back-to-back top-20 finishes at the U.S. Open and British Open.

    Koepka has showed he can handle pressure at the majors (he also tied for a respectable 33rd at the Masters). Combine that with his podium play throughout this year, and it’s clear the quickly maturing Koepka should be on Jay Haas’ short list for a captain’s pick.

    He may not make the final cut for the Presidents Cup roster, but he’ll be in contention if he can sustain the form he’s found in the last six weeks.

    All FedEx Cup points and Presidents Cup standings courtesy of PGATour.com.


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