Ryder Cup: The Wildcard contenders

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The Ryder Cup top eight have been finalised for Team USA: But who is in the mix for a wildcard pick? 

Tiger Woods did his best to fight his way in to the Ryder Cup team next month with his second place finish at the PGA Championship, but it was a move from 20th to 11th - three spots outside of the automatic qualifying. With that process now finalised, there are just a few weeks before Captain Furyk decides his final four players.  

There are four wildcard spots in total, with the likes of Tiger Woods Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner and Tony Finau all needing picks. 

It's a tough decision for Captain Jim Furyk, with plenty of players proving their merit over the last few weeks. 

Bryson DeChambeau made a statement with his four-shot victory and second win of the season at The Northern Trust on Sunday. Afterward, DeChambeau was asked if he felt he had sent a message to Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk.

He responded; "I said I was a man on a mission yesterday, and hopefully he can see that I've got some grit and grind, and that even when I don't execute certain shots, I can get it done."

Meanwhile, Brandt Snedeker just shot a 59 and went on to win the Wyndham Championship to join our list of potential outsiders who could force their way on to the team. However, he was forced to WD from The Northern Trust with an injury, putting his hopes in to a more doubtful position. 

Furyk already indicated form is more important to him than experience.

"Right now we have a lot of experience, so I wouldn't say that's the most important thing," Furyk said. "If you look at our top eight, there's only one guy that hasn't played in the Ryder Cup and that's Justin Thomas.

"Form and compatibility are fairly even, but I would say form might get the nod, although compatibility is a very, very close second.

"I always like experience but we already have it so I'm not thinking that's the most important. But if we had four or five rookies on the team, then experience would be number one."

So who is in?

Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson. 

All eight players are ranked inside the World's top 20 (including the World's top 3), with Koepka and Reed winning three of the four majors this year and Webb Simpson taking the Players Championship title. 

The Wildcards Options

Tiger Woods

Woods, who is a Vice Captain, needs to get a wildcard pick to get in to the team. He’s been very vocal about his desire to be a playing VC, and given his recent results and form at the PGA Championship, that one feels like a certainty.

Woods has played on 7 Ryder Cup teams between 1997 and 2012 with a record of 13-17-3, only losing once in singles matches. He’s also played on eight Presidents Cup teams, with a record of 24-15-1.

He almost made the team without even playing a major in 2017, and has moved to World No. 26, an astonishing 1173 places in 15 events since he entered the Hero World Challenge last December.

This year alone he’s had five top 10s, including at both the Open and PGA Championship and another at the Quicken Loans National to give him three top-six finishes in his last five.

He had a disappointing T40 at last weeks Northern Trust, but still ranks inside the top 11 on the PGA Tour for SG: Around the green, SG: Approach the green, Scoring Average, SG: Tee to green and 31st for overall Putting Average.

Phil Mickelson

This is the first time Phil hasn't qualified for team USA on points since 1993, having played on 11 Ryder Cup sides since 1995 (and 12 Presidents Cups).

One thing that Phil can bring to the team is a huge amount of experience, with a record in Ryder Cup of 18-20-7, winning 21.5 points over the years.

Mickelson’s form of late hasn’t been as hot as it was earlier in the season which led to his first win in five years at the WGC Mexico, but his experience is valuable and given he ranks 10th on the Ryder Cup USA points list, the chances are high he’ll be included.

He has gone T24-T24-MC-T15 in his last four starts and ranks 2nd in SG: Putting and 4th in Birdie Average on Tour just now.  

Bryson DeChambeau

The potential rookie missed the cut at the PGA Championship, which left him just over 200 points away from automatically qualifying for the top eight. 

DeChambeau had impressed from the Arnold Palmer Invitational all the way to his victory at The Memorial tournament, before struggling with an injury and recent erratic results until he cruised to victory at The Northern Trust on Sunday. Adding that to Tiger Woods’ recent plaudits, there is a strong chance he could be given a pick from Furyk. 

"We want him on that team," Woods said during his press conference at the PGA Championship. 

"Bryson is very analytical as we all know, but what most of the guys don't know is how competitive he is. He is very fiery, very competitive, and that's the type of person we want on the team. We want someone who is fiery, who will bleed red, white and blue. We want those type of players on the team."

Matt Kuchar

Kuchar is ranked 13th on the Ryder Cup list thanks to four top 10s this year, which includes a T9 at the Open Championship.

In his last eight starts he’s had three top 15s, four MC’s and a most recent result of T60, so while he has a lot of Ryder Cup experience he needs something special this week to make it. 

He’s played on four Ryder Cup and four Presidents Cup teams, with a record in Ryder Cup of 6-7-2 and of 6-8-2 in Presidents Cup - having won just one singles match for Team USA out of eight. 

Xander Schauffele

The World No. 19 finished T35 at the PGA Championship, and has three top 10s in his last in his last nine starts – one of those an impressive near miss at Carnoustie to finish in second to Francesco Molinari.

Given Team USA currently only have one rookie in Justin Thomas so far, last year's rookie of the year could fit in well, but he missed the cut at The Northern Trust which may affect his chances. 

Kevin Kisner

Kisner is another potential rookie on the team, but one who has at least had a little bit of team experience. He impressed at the President’s Cup, winning three points from four with two wins and two halves. 

His results have been inconsistent, but he did follow up a 2nd place finish at The Open with a T12 at the PGA Championship – showing he can perform on the big stage. A T73 last week may hurt his chances, but he still has a week to do something special. 

Tony Finau 

Another rookie who could get picked for the Ryder Cup is Finau, who finished inside the top 10 of the first three majors of the year, as well as finishing T10 at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational the week before the PGA Championship. 

Finau followed that up with a T42 and then a 2nd place finish at The Northern Trust, and still remains a player in the mix for a pick. He also played in two Junior Ryder Cups in 2004 and 2006, winning one match and losing three - but at least has experience of this sort of competition. 

Other outsiders

Brandt Snedeker likely boosted his chances thanks to his 59 and wire-to-wire victory at the Wyndham Championship, although probably needs a few more good results to guarantee a pick - and won't be helped by the injury he suffered which forced him to withdraw from The Northern Trust. Has played on two Ryder Cup teams (4-2-0 record), an impressed in 2016 with three wins from three. 

Zach Johnson is a five-time Ryder Cup player who is 20th on the points list, but has been incredibly consistent recently. With the exception of a T40 last week, he hadn't finished worse than 19th in his previous six starts on Tour. 

Kevin Na is another one who might not be being talked about, but should be in the conversation. He claimed the Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in July, finished T19 and T15 the last two week and has four other top 10s this year already.