Notebook: Should Langer be picked for the European Ryder Cup team?

bernhard langer
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After winning two straight senior majors, some are suggesting that Bernhard Langer might be able to help the Europeans try to wrest the Ryder Cup away from the Americans in October.
By
Associated Press

Series:

Bernhard Langer won senior majors in consecutive weeks, eight time zones apart, and there are some wondering whether he merits consideration as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup.

Don't count Darren Clarke among them. In between Langer winning the Senior British Open and the U.S. Senior Open, Clarke was asked if he thought the 52-year-old German had played himself into contention for the team.

"Which team?" Clarke replied.

The Ryder Cup.

"What year?" he asked.

This year.

"Have you been drinking?" came the latest reply.

Langer has not played in the Ryder Cup since 2002, and he was the European captain in 2004. Could he be a player again?

"I couldn't see that, no," Clarke said last week at the Irish Open. "I think Bernhard is a great player, has been a great player. I think he's obviously played great winning the British Seniors Open, but it's a different field you're competing in."

AMERICAN DROUGHT: Anthony Kim put his Ryder Cup hopes in jeopardy when he had left thumb surgery in May, which forced him to miss two majors over three months. He was No. 2 in the standings, but movement is volatile during a Ryder Cup year.

Kim returns this week at the Bridgestone Invitational and has fallen all the way ... to No. 5.

That speaks to the lack of American success on the PGA Tour over the last three months. In the 14 tournaments since Kim had surgery, the only American winners were Zach Johnson at Colonial, Bubba Watson at the Travelers Championship, Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic and Matt Bettencourt, who won an opposite-field event in Reno the week of St. Andrews.

Americans finished second in only eight of those events, a list that includes the Ryder Cup captain (Corey Pavin) and one of his assistant captains (Paul Goydos). About the only player who consistently contended was Jeff Overton, who has been rewarded by moving up to No. 4 in the standings.

That doesn't make Overton -- or Kim, for that matter -- a lock to finish in the top eight and make the team.

Only about $645,000 separates Jim Furyk at No. 2 from Tiger Woods at No. 9, with two events remaining with combined prize money of about $16 million.

PATIENT PADRAIG: Padraig Harrington is playing the kind of consistent golf that usually leads to winning. He's just not winning.

The Irishman is approaching the two-year anniversary of his last official victory -- the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. And he concedes that his patience is being tested, although Harrington finds his expectations at odds with everyone else.

He had 10 finishes in the top 10 last year, more than he had in either 2008 or 2007, and his runner-up finish in the Irish Open was his sixth top 10 of this season.

"I don't normally use as a guideline how many top 10s because I think it's not a great thing to focus on," he said. "But I've had more top 10s in the last year than I've ever had in my career. So going on a guideline that most people use, I've actually had the best year of my career. Glaringly obvious, I haven't won. But my form has been solid enough."

Harrington posed a question last week about which should be considered a better player -- someone who won and did nothing else the rest of the year, or contended a majority of the time without ever winning?

"Obviously, a win would make life a lot easier," he said. "But I can tell, as much as I need a win, I'm quite happy that the form is there."

TOP COURSES: Despite hosting its sixth major championship, Pebble Beach failed to beat out Pacific Dunes on Golf Magazine's list of "Top 100 Courses You Can Play." Pacific Dunes, designed by Tom Doak in Bandon, Ore., was voted No. 1 by the magazine's panel.

The rest of the list is to be released Thursday on the magazine's website, www.golf.com.

Bandon had four courses in the top 15, including Old Macdonald, which was among seven new courses on the list.

California had the most courses in the top 100 with 10, while 67 of the golf courses could be played for under $100.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin and Tiger Woods each have played seven times on the PGA Tour this year. Pavin is No. 96 in the FedExCup standings, while Woods is No. 111.

FINAL WORD: "If the fairways are 15 yards wide and you didn't have to hit it 330 (yards) to compete, maybe I wouldn't do that." -- Jeff Overton on the swing he uses to create power.