Who’s safe, who’s not for Presidents Cup at Medinah
The BMW Championship is the last week to earn an automatic spot for Royal Melbourne
August 14, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Patrick Cantlay currently sits No. 8 in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MEDINAH, Ill. – By Sunday night, two-thirds of this year’s Presidents Cup participants will be identified. The top eight spots on the U.S. and International teams after this week’s BMW Championship will be locked in for Royal Melbourne in December.
The four Captain’s Picks from Tiger Woods and Ernie Els will be announced after the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in early November.
Although some players on both teams have guaranteed a trip to Australia, there is still uncertainty with the final few automatic spots. Here’s a look at the possibilities for each team heading into Thursday’s first round at Medinah.
CURRENT TOP 8: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay
A win this week at the BMW Championship is worth 1,100 Presidents Cup points. The formula for arriving at that number? Presidents Cup points in the FedExCup Playoffs events are weighted the same in points as World Golf Championships events, with the points doubled for this year’s Playoffs.
Cantlay currently has 5,268 points, so that means anybody behind him with 4,168 points or better can catch him with a victory. Thus, No. 9 Gary Woodland (4,912), No. 10 Tony Finau (4,872), No. 11 Rickie Fowler (4,547) and No. 12 Patrick Reed (4,413) remain alive going into Medinah.
Oh, and No. 13th on that list? U.S. Captain Tiger Woods, who cannot move inside the top 8 with a win. Woods mistakenly thought he was 12th in points, telling the media on Wednesday that he still had "some work to do" to move into the top 8.
But no amount of work can guarantee him a spot. Of course, he could still enhance his argument for being a playing captain as a pick.
"Whether that's me and three other guys, or it's just four other guys, either way I'm going to Australia," Woods said. "It's just whether I'm going to be playing or not."
Reed – fresh off his victory at THE NORTHERN TRUST -- or Fowler each have to win for any hope of a top-8 spot. A solo second doesn’t give either one enough points to catch Cantlay.
Finau or Woodland each need a third-place or better finish.
So who’s vulnerable among the American players inside the top 8?
According to our projections, Koepka, Johnson and Thomas can rest easy. Even if they are pushed down the standings, there are no scenarios in which they fall out of the top eight.
For Kuchar and Simpson, the odds are in their favor, but it remains mathematically possible for each one to finish outside the top eight.
Simpson, DeChambeau and Cantlay are in the danger zone. Enough scenarios are in play this week to prevent them from feeling comfortable. It would behoove each one to have a solid performance at Medinah while keeping one eye on the leaderboard in case something spectacular is required.
CURRENT TOP 8: Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer, Haotong Li, Cameron Smith, C.T. Pan
Outlining exactly what needs to be done in order to secure a spot for Els’ team is a bit tricky, given that it’s based on Official Golf World Ranking points and involves tournaments (including their strengths of field) on three different tours. So please take the following information as our best-guess information (our Aussie staff writer Ben Everill is pretty spot-on about these things) but realize nothing is definitive.
Leishman, Oosthuizen, Scott, Matsuyama and Ancer, the top five in the standings, have separated themselves from the pack and can be considered locks. Ancer made the big leap from 10th to fifth with his runner-up finish Sunday at THE NORTHERN TRUST and will become the first player to represent Mexico at the Presidents Cup.
“That’s huge,” Ancer said Sunday. “I get a little bit of goosebumps right now just talking about it.”
Li, Smith and Pan – each seeking his first Presidents Cup appearance -- are all within six points of each other in the final three spots. Li and Smith are not in action this week; Li is not a TOUR member and Smith is not inside the top 70 players in FedExCup points who advanced to Medinah. So they will be unable to improve on their ranking totals.
Pan is on the bubble and in the BMW Championship field this week, so he controls his own fate. He knows it’s a big opportunity to guarantee his spot for Royal Melbourne. In his threesome for the first two rounds this week is Tiger Woods. It’ll be the first time he’s played with Woods.
I know it's going to be crazy playing with Tiger,” said Pan, who at 37th in FedExCup points and needs a big week also to move inside the top 30 for East Lake. “… It will be wild. So I'm just looking forward to enjoying it and making the best out of it.”
And as for the pressure of playing for a Presidents Cup spot?
“All you can do is let good golf take care of everything,” Pan said. “I've been trying very hard out there and trying to finish strong every single round, last week or last two months, and definitely put me in a really good spot here, and I'm just very grateful and thankful for the opportunity. At least I have a shot.”
It’s the next three players closest to the bubble who make things really intriguing, since each one is playing a different event.
Jason Day, having fallen from seventh to ninth in International points at Liberty National, is in the BMW Championship field. While the Aussie seems almost certain to be a captain’s pick if he doesn’t earn a spot on merit, Day would obviously prefer moving back into the top 8. It likely requires him to finish 19th or better this week.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, 10th in points, is the highest-ranked OWGR player (56th) in this week’s field at the Sarawak Championship on the Asian Tour. A win there would net him 14 ranking points, good enough to surpass the current totals of Smith and Pan.
South Africa’s Justin Harding, 11th in points, is the highest-ranked OWGR player (53rd) in this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. A win there is worth 16 points; that would barely be good enough to surpass Pan’s current total.
Pan will earn points this week if he finishes inside the top 60 in the 70-man field, so Harding faces the toughest task. Still, it’s not inconceivable that if Day, Janewattananond and Harding each win their respective events this week, all three could move inside the top eight.
Meanwhile, there are a few wildcards still in play.
South Korean Sungjae Im could be a factor with a top-3 finish in Chicago. Countrymen Sung Kang, Si Woo Kim and Ben An likely need a win or solo second.
Canadians Corey Conners and Adam Hadwin, along with Argentina’s Emilio Grillo and South Africa’s Dylan Fritelli, could also make an impact by winning at Medinah. After all, Ancer showed last week that a big result in the Playoffs can have huge Presidents Cup implications. Chile’s Joaquin Niemann is 70th in FedExCup points and thus the last player in the field at Medinah; he could conceivable move into the top 8 with a win.