Good Week, Bad Week
The memorial and Nordea Masters
A good week for...
An app on Darren Clarke's phone keeps him updated on the percentage chance of each player qualifying for his team. After Matt Fitzpatrick's second professional win - at the Nordea Masters on Sunday - the Europe captain's mobile must have the young Yorkshireman in the mid to high nineties. It was a huge step for Fitzpatrick, who has left behind poor early-season form and is now threatening to realise all of his potential.
Finally, at the age of 36 and after three runners-up finishes, William McGirt broke his duck on the PGA Tour. And not only did his play-off win at the Memorial earn him the honour of shaking the hand of Jack Nicklaus, the tournament promoter, on the 18th green, but also opened up some exciting possibilities. None will be any more tantalising than a place on Davis Love's team. Having jumped 35 places to 15th in the standings, McGirt can target a dream debut at Hazeltine.
Mr Consistency is back in the groove of picking up huge cheques and, with them, notable Ryder Cup points on a seemingly weekly basis. His fourth place at the Memorial was his fourth top-six finish in as many events. A fine run which was triggered by his third at The Players and, suddenly, his slow start to 2016 seems a distant memory. Kuchar has climbed to ninth in the standings and in this form will be supremely confident of securing a fourth successive Ryder Cup berth.
A bad week for...
While being named as the fourth of Darren Clarke's vice-captains was a big consolation, be certain that Poulter is hurting after revealing that a foot complaint will keep him out for four months. There is the very slight possibility that Poulter could tee it up at Hazeltine, but it would require something bordering on the miraculous, particularly as he is so far down the standings. He has been Europe's talisman for almost a decade and his influence as a player will be missed. The Ryder Cup will just not be the same without those bulging eyes.
The world No 5 is still long odds-on to make the team, but as he said after a 75-69 at the Memorial: “I need to get off this missed-cut train”. This was the third time in five events that he failed to qualify for the final two rounds and that is not the sort of form Fowler expected to be taking into the US Open and the meat of the season. Love will be worried, if only because Fowler was in such impressive nick when seeing off Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in Abu Dhabi in January.
A thumb injury was the last thing Pieters needed at the Nordea Masters. The big-hitting Belgian was widely fancied to do well in Sweden and required a good finish to qualify for the US Open. Now he is sidelined with his hand in bandages and with his hopes of a Ryder Cup debut fading away. Clarke is a big fan of the 24-year-old but with so many rookies already in the automatic nine, Pieters cannot rely on a wildcard. He needs to hit the ground sprinting when he returns.