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updated: 8/7/2012 8:54 PM

Sizing up the U.S. Ryder Cup roster coming down the stretch

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By the time Sunday evening rolls around, we'll know who will comprise two-thirds of the United States Ryder Cup team that will take on the Europeans at Medinah Country Club in late September.

That's because shortly after the final putt of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is sunk, the Ryder Cup points standings will be finalized, and those in the top eight spots on the list will automatically qualify to be on captain Davis Love III's 2012 team.

So no pressure to perform this weekend, huh?

Well, for most of the players in the top eight spots (see standings), not so much; they're in a pretty comfortable position. But the guy in the No. 8 spot -- one Phil Mickelson -- may have a little concern, considering he hasn't played well in a long time (his last top-10 finish was in early May) plus the fact there are a couple of players breathing down his neck (Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker, hello).

From the "maybe it's an advantage, maybe it's not" department, Mickelson will be paired with Love for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship.

The probables:

Aside from Mickelson, who's almost certain to make the team regardless, because, hey, he's Phil, the real pressure will be on those on the outside of the top eight looking in.

Mahan (ninth in points) and Stricker (10th) are almost certain locks to make the team as captain's picks.

Stricker in particular because of how well he has played when teamed with Tiger Woods in previous international events and the fact that he has played lights-out of late, and Mahan for a season that has included 2 wins and 11 top-25 finishes in 18 starts.

And even though Jim Furyk (11th) imploded a bit in both the U.S. Open in June and Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational, it's hard to imagine Love not selecting the veteran). Can you even remember the last time he wasn't on a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team?

All for one:

By my calculations, that's 11 guys on the team and only one spot remaining.

That's not good news for the handful of players on the cusp; a list that includes Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Bo Van Pelt and Bill Haas.

Of course one of these guys can boost his stock with a big performance this weekend, but if that doesn't happen, the guess here is that the pick will be Johnson, who since returning from an injury has had four top-20 finishes including a win and a ninth place finish at the British Open.

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