A dramatic finish to the International in Colorado had no effect on the top positions in the US Ryder Cup standings, and the main debate after the finish of the penultimate qualifying tournament centred on captain Tom Lehman, who was narrowly defeated in a playoff by Dean Wilson.
Had Lehman triumphed in the playoff he would have moved into 7th place on the list, which would have given him a real selection headache ahead of the clash with Europe at the K Club in Ireland next month. His second place finish moved him up to 19th from 29th, and a good showing at this week’s USPGA Championship at Medinah could yet see the 47 year-old break into the top ten. Even if he did so, Lehman is adamant that his participation as a playing captain is unlikely.
“I have momentum, but I’m the captain,” he told the media after his narrow loss yesterday.
“I decided a while back that unless there was some crazy, unforeseen circumstance I would not play. My putting is a little too erratic and I’m not making enough. In the Ryder Cup it’s all about the short game. Putting and chipping is what it comes down to, guys that can knock the ball into the hole. Whilst I’m not three putting very much I don’t have a great deal of confidence on the greens at the moment.”
This week’s USPGA Championship is the final chance for American hopefuls to earn ranking points. Its status as a Major championship means that extra points are available, and the 675 that will go to the winner means that any player down to Robert Gamez in 104th place could mathematically make the team. Only the top five in the rankings are secure, and any of the following five in the top ten could see themselves overtaken. However, the American scoring system only affords points for a top ten finish, meaning that Chris DiMarco and Vaughn Taylor – 6th and 7th respectively – look reasonably safe.
Wilson’s win at the Intenational moves him up to 22nd position, but he will require a top five finish in the USPGA to qualify for the team. The main mover was Stewart Cink, whose fifth-place finish in Colorado moved him up to 12th place from 20th in the rankings.
US Ryder Cup Standings – 14/08/2006
1 Tiger Woods, 4150
2 Phil Mickelson, 2474
3 Jim Furyk, 2076
4 Chad Campbell, 1129
5 David Toms, 1072
6 Chris DiMarco, 830
7 Vaughn Taylor, 780
8 JJ Henry, 778
9 Zach Johnson, 756
10 Brett Watterich, 746
11 John Rollins, 685
12 Stewart Cink, 676
13 Jerry Kelly, 653
14 Lucas Glover, 641
15 Davis Love III, 631
* Top ten on the list qualify automatically for the US team. Captain Tom Lehman than adds two wildcard selections. Final qualifying tournament is this week’s USPGA Championship, August 17th-20th.