Par for the Course: Good players left off U.S. Ryder Cup team

From this vantage point, the United States Ryder Cup team of 12 players has been viewed by fans as a simple and almost automatic selection process.

The team that will play Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National, located outside of the Paris, France city limits, is composed of 12 outstanding Americans — Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Speith, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson, as automatic top eight qualifiers in the individual Ryder Cup points standings. Captain Jim Furyk then made captain’s picks of Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Tigers Woods and Tony Finau.

It appears that most members of the golf media are on board with those choices. That said, there are players who could claim to have been left out.

No. 1 on the left-out list is Xander Schauffle, who ranks No. 12 in the Ryder Cup points standings. He put on a great BMW FedEx tournament playoff performance last weekend at Aronimink. Had Schauffle converted his 18th-hole birdie putt there, he might have won the tournament in a playoff. That would have made it difficult for Furyk to pick someone else for the 12th spot on the squad.

Also in a position for consideration as the final team selection were Matt Kuchar and Kevin Kisner, ranked 13th and 14th, respectively, in the Ryder Cup points accumulation. “Kooch” is a well-known player everywhere in the U.S. and he is pretty well-known in Europe. If this was a popularity contest, Kuchar probably would have been chosen. Kisner has had an excellent season, and it could be argued that he should be on the team.

Then there is Finau, who also has had a phenomenal season, despite that fact that he has not won a 2018 event. Finau was No. 15 in Ryder Cup points, but he was second, fourth and eighth in the three FexEx playoffs events. He is playing so well, that he could contend for the FedEx Playoff Championship Sept 20-23 in Atlanta at East Lake. If he takes that title without having won a tournament this year, he will become a U.S. golf household name.

Note that there is a slight objection here to what Finau stated when selected for the team.

“I can play anywhere with anyone,” he said.

Clearly his intent was to show he is a team player, but as the last man on board, he really will have no say in where or if he plays for the American squad.

On the far outside, looking in, there is one more player who may or may not have been considered. New England native Keegan Bradley won the final FedEx qualifying tournament at Aronimink to finish at No. 6 in the FedEx point standings. Bradley has played well enough on the PGA Tour to make money and keep his card, but it was a long time between championships for Bradley, one of the really good guys in pro golf. His resurgence has been a great story, after he had to give up the belly putter Jan. 1, 2016, because the PGA banned its use. Bradley’s Ryder Cup points ranking of 45th made it easy for Furyk to leave him off the team.

That said, by winning in a one-hole playoff Sept. 10 over Justin Rose in the BMW Classic, Bradley made New England golfers very proud. And in the process, he picked up $1.6 million, which will come in handy now that he is married and the father of a young son.

*****

The MSGA schedule continues to go strong with a pair of women’s weekly events Sept. 17 at Rockland and Webhannet, and Senior Tour competition Sept. 17 at Val Halla. Sept. 20 a MidWeek event is set at Prouts Neck. A U.S. Kids event is set for Sept. 22 at Gorham.

The Maine Mid-Amateur will be Sept. 22-23 at Sunday River. In addition to a prestigious MSGA championship, at stake will be three exemptions in the 2018 Maine Amateur at Portland.

United States’ Patrick Reed celebrates his birdie on the 14th hole with United States’ Jordan Spieth during a four-ball match at the Ryder Cup golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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