As much ire as Paul Azinger’s condescending tone drew, there is no denying that the PGA Tour is where the strongest competition is to be found during the Florida swing.
This is in no way intended to belittle the achievements of Sami Valimaki and Jorge Campillo in recent weeks, but neither player’s achievements have propelled them into serious contention for Padraig Harrington’s side.
21-year-old Valimaki is certainly one for the future though, claiming victory in just his sixth European Tour start and there is every chance that he may become Finland’s first Ryder Cup competitor in the not-so-distant future.
Meanwhile, Harrington had plenty reason to smile as Tyrrell Hatton won an ironman-like Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. In blustery conditions on bone dry surfaces, Bay Hill was an absolute brute, but the terrier-like Hatton sunk his teeth in and refused to let go. This is the kind of grit and determination that created Ryder Cup heroes like Tom Kite and Ian Poulter, and played no small part in the European captain’s three major championship victories.
Hatton’s win was the second successive PGA Tour win by a non-American and the seventh victory from the international cohort since the turn of the year. This means that there has been comparatively little shakeup in the United States’ rankings, but Bryson DeChambeau’s best of the Americans finish at Bay Hill edges him closer to the automatic selection places.
Who knows exactly what the future will bring given how the ongoing Coronavirus has decimated schedules on the European and PGA Tours but here’s how things stand for both teams ahead of this year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits:
*Comprised of the top four players on the European Points List and the next five players from the World Points List who are not already included.
European World Points List – The Big Movers
Tyrrell Hatton – Up 2 places to #7
Viktor Hovland – Up 35 places to #20
*Comprised of the top eight points scorers on the PGA Tour’s Ryder Cup points list
European Tour Points List – The Big Movers
Jorge Campillo – Up 20 places to #20
European Tour World Points List – The Big Movers
Tyrrell Hatton – Up 5 places to #3
PGA Tour Points List – The Big Movers
Bryson DeChambeau – Up 2 places to #11
Rickie Fowler – Up 3 places to #14
The Locks -Team Europe
Rory McIlroy – Another week, another 300k in the bank. He doesn’t have to worry about impressing Harrington between now and September.
Jon Rahm – Been resting since Mexico. Like Rory, safe in the knowledge that his bags are already packed.
Tommy Fleetwood – His “cuts made” streak comes to an end, but he’ll be extending his Ryder Cup squads made streak to two in September.
Brooks Koepka – Still miles clear at the top of the United States rankings. If you’re going to go through a slump, best get it over with before April.
Justin Thomas – Already eyeing up Augusta, you’d imagine. Who partners the phenome at Whistling Straits is a more pressing question than whether he’s there or not?
The Probables – Team Europe
Tyrrell Hatton – English winners on US soil are not as common a breed as you might think. Now with a three-year PGA Tour exemption in his pocket, it’s onwards and upwards for Tyrrell
The Probables – Team USA
Patrick Reed – He’s still captain America in singles play, and he’s looking more and more like the Reed that earned himself a green jacket in 2018.
The Might Need a Picks – Team Europe
Justin Rose – Leaking oil to the extent that he’s undergone an entire bag overhaul. He needs something to happen fast because on current form, Harrington couldn’t pick him.
The Might Need a Picks – Team USA
Four of the world’s top 20 players are on the outside looking in at present. Who might not need a pick may be a better question.
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