The first phase to determine who will be playing in next month's Ryder Cup matches at Medinah is over.
Point standings, accumulated over two years, determined the eight automatic berths on the U.S. team after Sunday's PGA Championship was completed. Those earning spots were Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson.
In past years the U.S. captain named his picks the day after the PGA, but that was changed this time. U.S. captain Davis Love III will name four (as opposed to just two in the past) picks Sept. 4 in New York.
The new system is much better than the old, in that it allows the captain to pick the players who are playing the best leading into the biennial matches.
That means Love can analyze play in three tournaments, two of them part of the pressurized FedEx Cup playoffs, before filling out his roster for the Sept. 25-30 spectacular at Medinah.
Love will be looking for experienced -- and hot -- players for his four selections.
The automatic eight are short on experience. Dufner, Bradley and Simpson have never played in the biggest team competition in golf and Watson and Kuchar have played only once.
Love will want some veterans to back them up, even though Mickelson -- the last of the automatic qualifiers -- will make his ninth straight appearance. That's a record for consecutive, as well as all-time, appearances.
Though he wouldn't say it at Monday's news conference, Love is sure to name Steve Stricker to the team.
Stricker was 10th on the point list but is Woods' preferred partner. Hunter Mahan, one spot in front of Stricker and a two-time winner this season, figures to make the U.S. squad for the second time as a captain's pick.
The other two picks are up for grabs, with performances in this week's Wyndham Championship and the first two FedEx playoff events -- The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship -- critical in Love's view.
He will make his picks on the Tuesday of the third FedEx tourney, the BMW Championship. It will be held at Crooked Stick in Indianapolis this year after having a home at Cog Hill in Lemont.
The Western Golf Assn. wanted to move its PGA Tour stop out of Chicago this year to avoid oversaturation with the Ryder Cup.
If Love is worried about experience, he could pick Jim Furyk (11th in the point standings) or even dip into the Champions Tour ranks for Fred Couples. If he wants an exciting young star, Ricky Fowler and Dustin Johnson would be possibilities.
Unfortunately there won't be a local player on the U.S. squad.
Mark Wilson, D.A. Points and Kevin Streelman loomed as possibilities, however remote, early in the year, but Wilson was in 23rd place in the standings with Points 31st and Streelman 69th. All were too far back to merit consideration.
The European team is chosen differently, with captain Jose Maria Olazabal making only two picks, both on Aug. 27, the day after the Johnnie Walker Championship concludes in Scotland.
Ten members of the European team are chosen off point standings that are finalized after the Johnnie Walker event.
Big week for NU:
Northwestern's golf programs had an impact far beyond the college level last weekend.
Two NU alums -- Chris Wilson (2007) and Scott Harrington (2003) -- went to a playoff to determine the title in the Web.com Tour's Price Cutter Charity Classic in Springfield, Mo., with Wilson winning.
Illinois' Luke Guthrie tied for 10th in that event, the sixth time in as many pro starts on the PGA and Web.com circuits that he has finished in the top 20.
And NU sophomore Nicole Zhang reached the semifinals in the U.S. Women's Amateur. That's the best finish by a Wildcat in either the men's or women's U.S. Ams since Dillon Dougherty was runner-up in 2004.
Luke Donald's best in the U.S. Am was a semifinal finish.
Here and there:
Those lucky enough to secure Ryder Cup tickets probably should have them by now. They were mailed Friday. … The third and final Illinois qualifier for next month's U.S. Mid-Amateur at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, is Wednesday at Piper Glen in Springfield. …
The Illinois PGA Pro-Senior tournament is Wednesday at Elgin Country Club and the Schaumburg Classic is Monday, the last tuneup for the Aug. 27-29 IPGA Championship at Stonewall Orchard in Grayslake. …
A qualifier for the Illinois State Senior Amateur will be held Tuesday at The Links at Carillon in Plainfield. … The Midwest Shelter Golf Fundraiser has been scheduled for Aug. 26 at Klein Creek in Winfield.