In four weeks U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples will announce his two captain’s picks for the 12-man American squad that will be traveling to this year’s matches in Melbourne, Australia, in mid-November.
Couples made a rush to judgment prior to the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational a couple of weeks ago, saying Tiger Woods would be one of the two choices unless he heard otherwise from the player.
Woods had hoped to play his way onto the team, but a tie for 37th in Akron and a missed cut at the PGA Championship ended that possibility as he also failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the final last four Presidents Cup point-earning tournaments.
If Couples were holding a spot for Woods because he was the world No. 1 and winning tournaments in chunks at the time he injured himself at the Masters and missed nearly three months, then that might be easily understandable.
That however is not the case. Woods is neither inside the world Top 25 rankings’ nor has he won on the PGA Tour since 2009. In fact, Woods has not won during the latest Presidents Cup two-year points cycle.
As a result of Couples’ haste, a player with clearly better credentials of late may get the shaft. That player could be Keegan Bradley, the newly crowned PGA Championship winner.
Bradley is currently 18th in the standings, having vaulted 21 spots with his win at the Atlanta Athletic Club on Sunday. Points are weighted more during a Presidents Cup year, but consider that Bradley has earned all of his just this season — his rookie season on the PGA Tour.
Do not forget that in late May Bradley won the HP Byron Nelson Championship in a playoff. So Sunday’s major victory — in his first major appearance — was his second.
Of the seven players outside of the top 10 and ahead of Bradley in the President Cup point standings Rickie Fowler (11th in the standings), Jason Dufner (15th) and Webb Simpson (16th) have no career victories. And in this current points cycle, Ryan Moore (17th), Zach Johnson (14th) and Brandt Snedeker (13th) have won once each. Bo Van Pelt is 12th. Also, only Fowler and Johnson have prior Ryder or Presidents cup experience.
Bradley, who moved to No. 29 in the world rankings (Woods is now 33rd), enters the FedEx Cup Playoffs in fourth place, so is certain to pick up valuable points in the coming weeks.
Whether it will be enough to make the team without Couples’ nod is uncertain, but Bradley has made a strong case — a case that is far stronger than Woods’ at this point.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.