The Van Cynical Mailbag: Does the U.S. have a chance in Ryder Cup against European team with Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer?

The Van Cynical Mailbag: Does the U.S. have a chance in Ryder Cup against European team with Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer?

Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy -- seen here at the 2014 PGA Championship -- will bring their major championship form to the European Ryder Cup team next month.
Getty Images

It is mid-August and here comes the weird part: If you’re not in the FedEx Cup series, your PGA Tour season is done.

The media hype over the next month will be about the silly big money the FedEx Cup contestants are playing for but you won’t hear much about the guys who missed out.

They’re not done playing, however. Those who finished 126th to 200th on the points list will now enjoy four weeks on the Tour in its playoff series that is the bastard love child of that tour and the old qualifying tournament, or Q-School.

With luck, those players can recover your PGA Tour playing privileges in that four-week sprint and take another shot at the tour next year — playing, of course, from the bottom of the tour’s priority pecking order.

David Duval, who played six times on sponsor’s exemptions, finished 202nd. The hard-luck story of the Wyndham Championship belongs to Kevin Foley, a Tour rookie who played college golf at Penn State. He finished 201st in points after he missed a four-foot par putt on the Wyndham Championship’s final hole that cost him a spot in the finals. He’ll have to go instead to the Tour Q-School. If successful there, he gets a year on the Tour. If unsuccessful, he is free to travel about the country.

Also playing in the Tour finals will be Patrick Rodgers, the former Stanford star, who earned enough FedEx Cup points while playing seven times on sponsor’s exemption to rank among the top 200. So he’ll have a chance to get his PGA Tour card.

The Free Pass Champion of the Year, an award I give out each season to the pro who scored the most PGA Tour sponsor’s exemptions, goes to tour veteran Joe Oglivie. He received nine exemptions, made two cuts and won a little over $42,000. Oglivie, 40, plans to retire after 15 years on the Tour.

The Free Pass Runner-ups this year were Rodgers, Max Homa, Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey with seven apiece. Duval, Chad Campbell, Sean O’Hair and John Daly scored six apiece.

Ex-Man of the Year goes to Casey, the Englishman and former Ryder Cupper. He made six cuts in seven exemptions, led all exemption players in money won with just over $469,000 and made a nice comeback from a series of injuries. Honorable mention goes to Koepka, who made $316,255. Koepka, by the way, had the best finish by a player on exemption. He was third at the event.

The Monday Man of the Year was Jason Allred, who survived Monday qualifying four times and turned that into $610,176 in winnings. He placed third at the Northern Trust event after qualifying on Monday. He came up just short of earning his PGA Tour card, however, but he will be playing the Tour finals with a chance to earn his PGA Tour card.

Monday qualifying is extremely competitive, so a tip of the visor goes to three players who pulled it off three times — Frank Lickliter, Eric Axley and Chris Smith. The only other Monday qualifier to crack six figures was Austin Cook, who qualified in Memphis and won $102,000.

Who were the worst performing frequent exemption-getters? Thanks for asking. Kevin Tway and Peter Uihlein went oh-for four; Chris DiMarco made one cut in five exemptions; Oglivie was two-for-nine; and Bobby Gates was oh-for-three.

There were 279 sponsor’s exemptions awarded; 125 of them made the cut, 44.8 percent. Only 24 of the 89 Monday qualifiers for the season cashed checks, 26.9 percent.

The Wells Fargo Championship had the worst-performing players who received sponsor’s exemptions, with only one of eight making the cut. The best-performing were Bay Hill (16 of 20) and Phoenix (4 of 5) .800; Puerto Rico (9 of 13) .692; and (4 of 6) .667.

The Top Ten by money won of players who received exemptions:

1. Paul Casey: $469,331

2. Brooks Koepka: $316,255

3. Shawn Stefani: $256,000

4. Matteo Manassero: $243,000

5. Erik Compton: $226,300

6. Ben Curtis: $215,450

7. Sean O’Hair: $173,184

8. Justin Thomas: $170,236

9. Victor Dubuisson: $155,306

10. Max Homa: $152,544

Let’s check the Van Cynical Mailbag…

Van Cynical, If Bernhard Langer has one more win in the next two weeks, should he be considered for the Ryder Cup?
–The Bogey Train via Twitter

Herr Langer is having a great year of senior golf and possibly should be considered based on his finish at the Masters, eighth. However, just because he can beat Monty and Jeff Sluman and the rest of the seniors doesn’t mean he should be on the team. The Euros are overloaded with talent. Bernhard would be a great addition to the weak-ass American lineup, however.

Vans, I’ll take Ian Poulter over Patrick Reed anytime. I’m just sayin’…
–Michael (Mannix) O’Connor via Twitter

I hear you, Mannix. Poulter does have a resume in match play while Reed is a newcomer. I wouldn’t go bashing Reed until we see him in action in Scotland. He’s got the kind of cocky attitude that might make him a tough out in match play.

Van Cynical, The media and the world rankings over-pump the Euros so much that they start believing it. When it’s match play, anything can happen.
–Jerry via Twitter

You’re right about the latter, J-ball. The Ryder Cup is almost a putting contest and thus it’s a much more level playing field than you think, no matter how unbalanced you think the teams are. If you’re implying that the Euros’ advantage is merely imagined, I’ve got to disagree. Forget the rankings, how about Rory McIlroy winning the British Open and PGA and Martin Kaymer winning the U.S. Open and Players? There’s no doubt they’re the top two players in the world right now, although that didn’t seem to help the U.S. much when it was Tiger and Phil.

Vans, Why do people keep pretending the European team is dramatically better? Outside of their top three, their guys aren’t playing so hot either. Westy. Poulter. Donald. All having down years.
–Brian Rosenwald via Twitter

Euros might go without Westy, Poulter and Donald, BriRo. They’ve still got Stenson, Sergio, Dubuisson, Justin Rose, Jamie Donaldson and Graeme McDowell. But you’re right that the Euro team is being slightly oversold. That happens to one side, usually the U.S., every two years.

Vans, Is Steve Stricker out of Ryder Cup consideration?
–Peter Macaluso via Twitter

He might not have been after his PGA showing, what with the American lineup looking like walking wounded. But Steve has a torn labrum in his hip that is probably going to need surgery. The last thing Captain Watson needs is another question mark who can only go 18 a day. Steve is already on the team as a vice captain, so no, he’s not going to be a pick.

Van Secular, Do you think Kevin Sutherland was more pumped about shooting 59 on the senior circuit or bummed by bogeying the final hole to not shoot 58?
–Frank via Southpointe

There isn’t a golfer in the world who is happy about making bogey on the final hole, Frankenheimer, so I’m going with the latter.

Van Cynical, Have you ever bogeyed your last hole to shoot 59?
–Brian Bailey via Twitter

Yeah. Lots of times. Wait, are you asking if I bogeyed the 18th hole to shoot 59 or if I bogeyed MY last hole to shoot 59? Big difference.

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