BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The flight plans of Europeans leaving the PGA Championship says a lot about the various ways they can make the Ryder Cup as qualifying enters its final three weeks.
Martin Kaymer headed to Sweden for the SAS Masters on the European tour. Paul Casey went to Greensboro, N.C., for the final PGA Tour event before the FedEx Cup playoffs. Justin Rose went to his U.S. home in Orlando, Fla., with plans to head to Europe.
Europe made great strides in shoring up its team at Oakland Hills, with Sergio Garcia effectively sewing up a spot with his runner-up finish. But there are three tournaments left, and some players are trying to decide where to go.
The top five come from a world ranking points list, the next five from a money list and European captain Nick Faldo gets two picks.
Justin Rose is No. 7 on the list of world points, about 18 points behind Robert Karlsson at No. 5. Rose, however, is third in money standings and might have a better chance of nailing down a spot by staying in Europe.
He also is No. 76 in the FedEx Cup standings, but he entered the KLM Open in The Netherlands and the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, the final qualifying event for Europe.
“My plan was to play the FedEx Cup, but I don’t know if I have quite enough points to be safe,” Rose said. “So I might have to go back and earn some more.”
If he plays both European events, he most likely would be eliminated from the playoffs before the third week in St. Louis.
Paul Casey is No. 91 in the FedEx Cup standings and 16th in the Ryder Cup world points table. His best chance is to gather world ranking points, and there are more available in the United States this month.
“I’m FedExCupping it,” Casey said after a tie for 15th at Oakland Hills. “I still have an opportunity to qualify, but that opportunity is now off the world points list rather than the euros. And I’m a long way off of that list. I basically have to win, simple as that.”
Casey also needs to play two more events to fulfill PGA Tour membership.
TIGER TALES: Tiger Woods watched enough of the PGA Championship to see Padraig Harrington join him as the only players this decade to win two majors in the same season, and he congratulated the Irishman in a newsletter Tuesday.
The question is whether Woods will be able to stop Harrington from trying to win three straight majors at the Masters. Woods had reconstructive surgery on his left knee and has no timetable for his return.
Repeating comments he made last week in a radio interview, Woods said he is able to move around without crutches, rides a stationary bike as part of his rehab but won’t start swing a club until next year.
“I just don’t have a choice,” Woods said. “We simply don’t know what type of swelling there would be or if there would be any residual effects the next day once you start wheeling and dealing on the knee. Everyone’s body reacts differently.
“I don’t know what the doctors are going to tell me about playing golf down the road,” he said. “I’m taking it day-to-day, week-to-week. All I’m doing every day is looking forward to my next day.”
Woods said he watched only parts of the British Open, PGA Championship and Senior British Open, where friend John Cook was in contention. But he sounded eager about watching the first Ryder Cup without him since 1995.
“I will definitely watch some of the Ryder Cup matches and will be pulling hard for the American team,” he said. “I wish I could do more than root!”
FEDEX CUP FINALE: The Wyndham Championship feels like the final tournament of the year, especially for someone like Davis Love III. This is the final tournament to finish among the top 144 in the FedEx Cup standings and qualifying for the PGA Tour Playoffs.
Love is No. 150, and needs to finish at least 30th to have a chance.
Marco Dawson is holding down the 144th spot, but likely would get bumped if he doesn’t make the cut. Others outside the top 144 include Jeff Maggert (No. 162) and Rich Beem (No. 166), whose performance last year in the playoffs inspired the PGA Tour to change the volatility of points awarded in the playoffs.
That will be of little use to Beem is he doesn’t make the playoffs.
COURSES YOU CAN PLAY: Pacific Dunes was rated the No. 1 golf course on Golf Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Courses You Can Play,” a biennial list that are among the best in the country without requiring private membership.
Pacific Dunes, which Tom Doak designed in Bandon, Ore., narrowly beat out Pebble Beach Golf Links for the top spot. Filling out the top 10 were Whistling Straits, Kiawah Island (Ocean Course), Pinehurst No. 2, Bandon Dunes, Bethpage Black, Chambers Bay, Spyglass Hill, and TPC Sawgrass.
“We’re especially proud of this list — ‘The Top 100 Courses You Can Play’ — for those last three words,” said Joe Passov, course rankings and architecture editor for Golf Magazine. “On this list, there are courses you can play for $500, and there are courses you can play for $30. We’ve got something for everyone.”
Passov said 23 of the top 100 can be played for under $50, while 62 of the courses can be played for $100 or less. Four courses among the top 10 that can be played for under $100 are Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes, Bethpage Black and Chambers Bay.
Chambers Bay, which opened last year and will be host of the 2015 U.S. Open, was the only newcomer to the list to make the top 10.
The list was compiled through input of the magazine’s ranking panel, editorial staff, industry insiders and its network of “course spies.” It relied less on specific criteria and more on the expertise of panelists.
WIE IN CANADA: Michelle Wie makes her final LPGA Tour appearance of the year at CN Canadian Women’s Open, needing to win or finish second to avoid a trip to Q-school — if she decides to try qualifying.
“I haven’t really decided anything yet,” Wie said. “I think planning what’s going to happen next year or this fall is going to happen after this week. Right now, all I’m thinking about is how am I going to play good this week. How am I maybe going to possibly win this?”
Asked if she would consider Q-school, Wie replied, “I’m not going to think about the future right now.”
The tournament starts Thursday and features a strong field that includes defending champion Lorena Ochoa.
DIVOTS: Only five players in their 20s have won majors this decade. … Ben Curtis has 11 finishes in the top 10 for his career, and four of them have come in the majors. … The guys who make a living on big drives will be subject to drug testing. Long Drivers of America said Tuesday it will start testing for steroids at the World Long Drive Championship in October. Competitors will be tested for use of more than 40 steroids and masking agents, along with amphetamines and methamphetamines.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The last five winners of the PGA Championship were major champions, the longest streak of any major.
FINAL WORD: “I love the idea of the back nine of a major on Sunday. I love it so much that I’m actually disappointed I’m seven months away from the next major.” — Padraig Harrington.