Notebook: US Ryder Cup team comes into focus with three weeks to go

Hunter Mahan
Getty Images
In the wake of the British Open, Hunter Mahan is holding down the eighth and final guaranteed spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- The U.S. Ryder Cup team is starting to take shape with three weeks remaining to get one of the eight automatic spots, and every shot is looking more important. Brandt Snedeker, now in 11th place in the standings, lost precious points when he bogeyed the last hole and fell into a tie for third with Tiger Woods at the British Open.

The top eight going into the RBC Canadian Open are Woods, Masters champion Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan.

PGA Champion Keegan Bradley is at No. 9, though he is equivalent of $640,000 behind Mahan.

Each $1,000 in PGA Tour earnings is worth one point, and it's worth double that in the majors. The qualifying ends with the PGA Championship on Aug. 12, and captain Davis Love III would have three more weeks before making his four wild-card selections.

Among those outside the top eight are Steve Stricker, who has played on the last two teams, and Jim Furyk, who has played on every team since 1997. Both of them would have to win either the Canadian Open or Bridgestone Invitational, or come in third at the PGA Championship.

Rickie Fowler is at No. 10, Dustin Johnson is at No. 12 and Bo Van Pelt is at No. 14.

COMING TO AMERICA: More than just joining the PGA Tour, Lee Westwood is looking to buy a home in Florida and moving his family to America.

It wasn't an easy decision, especially when it involves moving a young family, though it made sense to the Englishman.

''I'm not doing it merely for the sake of it,'' Westwood said. ''I think playing over there on the courses all the time and with those kinds of practice facilities and the right kind of weather should have a big effect.''

And there's one other reason -- three of the four majors are held in the United Sates.

Westwood said he has been contemplating a move for a couple of years, and if there were any doubts, this summer might have persuaded him.

''The English winters, and the English summers,'' he said, referring to the record rain this year. ''And the fact I like playing on the PGA Tour now. It was well-reported that I struggled over there, but over the last few years, I've seemed to enjoy it a lot more and now have a good time over there.''

DIPLOMATIC PLAYER: Gary Player was asked about Colin Montgomerie's ambition of winning the senior Grand Slam, and as he sat in a room full of British writers, he paused.

''I can't win answering that,'' Player said. ''Tommy Bolt said, 'If you say the wrong thing, you get on the front page. If you say the right thing, you get on back page.'''

Player opted for somewhere in the middle.

''Obviously, you must have that ambition,'' Player said. ''I really don't think that he knows how tough it is. Colin is a wonderful golfer. ... I expect him to win majors.''

He just didn't say anything about Monty, who turns 50 next June, winning them all.

DIVOTS: The board of the Official World Golf Ranking decided to leave the system alone for now. There had been discussion to give winners of the major championships more than 100 points. The next two highest-rated events this year were The Players Championship (80 points) and the World Golf Championship at Doral, which awarded 78 points to the winner. Doral, along with the other WGCs, has a limited field of about 80 players, compared with 156 players at all the majors except the Masters.

With his 68-68 weekend, Ernie Els set the British Open record with most career rounds in the 60s at 39. Nick Faldo had 37 sub-70 rounds. ... Dave Kindred, whose sports journalism career includes work for the Louisville Courier-Journal, Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has been selected as the 2013 Memorial Golf Journalism honoree. Kindred, who now contributes to Golf Digest, will be recognized at the Memorial next year at Muirfield Village.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The 54-hole leader has failed to win 11 of the last 14 majors.

FINAL WORD: ''Good players travel well anywhere they play.'' -- Jason Dufner.