By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
KOHLER, Wis. -- Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan, with three victories between them this season, will lead eight players who earned automatic berths Sunday on the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
The top eight players were determined at the conclusion of the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and will compete in the 28th Ryder Cup, Oct. 1-3, at The Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales.
The eight automatics for Captain Corey Pavin’s squad are as follows:
1. Phil Mickelson
2. Hunter Mahan
3. Bubba Watson
4. Jim Furyk
5. Steve Stricker
6. Dustin Johnson
7. Jeff Overton
8. Matt Kuchar
Mickelson, winner of the Masters, and Mahan -- who has two victories in 2010, including the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational -- each had their spots secured before the PGA Championship. Everyone else had something to play for.
Only two players in the top eight -- Watson and Dustin Johnson -- were previously out of the top 10. Watson was ranked No. 18 before his second-place finish in the PGA Championship. Dustin Johnson jumped from the No. 9 spot to No. 6 with his tie for fifth.
“You're playing for your country,” said Watson after learning he’d made the U.S. Team. “You're playing for the USA. Until 2016, we don't have an Olympics. That's my Olympics. I've wanted to play the Ryder Cup my whole life. I've made many a putts when I was eight and 10 years old to win the Ryder Cup. So why would you not want to play for your country? Win or lose, when we get to the Ryder Cup, we all want to win, but at the same time you represent your country and we want to represent our country well.”
Watson and Dustin Johnson will join Overton and Kuchar as the four rookies who earned a berth on the U.S. team through qualifying. Interestingly, Overton will be the first player in U.S. Ryder Cup history to not have previously won on the PGA Tour.
Overton is no slouch, though. Since 2008, he has racked up 12 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, including six in 2010.
Mahan and Stricker will be making their second Ryder Cup appearance and both played integral roles in the U.S. victory at Valhalla in 2008.
Mickelson and Furyk, with 13 Ryder Cup appearances between them, will bring the veteran leadership to a young team.
Pavin will fill out his team on Sept. 7 in New York City when he makes his four captain’s selections.
The next four players, in order, on the final standings, who are in the running for one of Pavin’s wildcard picks, are:
9. Anthony Kim
10. Lucas Glover
11. Zach Johnson
12. Tiger Woods
Kim and Glover both missed the cut at Whistling Straits to fall out of the top 8, while Zach Johnson jumped 10 spots from No. 21 to No. 11 with his tie for third.
Kim had been among the top eight through virtually all of the qualifying process until the PGA Championship. He’ll still have a chance to prove himself worthy of a pick, but missed a big chunk of the season -- four months to be exact -- to recover from surgery on an injured right thumb.
Woods, on the other hand, has played just nine events on the PGA Tour this season. He’s still the world’s No. 1 player and has expressed that he would accept an invitation to play from Pavin.
The 2010 United States Ryder Cup Team was chosen on the basis of points compiled by the PGA of America. The points system determined the top eight players for the 2010 United States Ryder Cup Team.
Points were based upon the following:
Prize money earned in the 2009 major championships (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship): One point was awarded for every $1,000 earned, all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
Prize money earned in 2010 "Official" events from Jan. 1 through Aug. 15. One point was awarded for every $1,000 earned, excluding the major championships, events played opposite major championships and events played opposite World Golf Championships; all U.S. players making the cut earned points.
Prize money earned for the 2010 major championships: (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship). Two points were awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut earned points.
Prize money earned in 2010 events played opposite the major championships and opposite World Golf Championship events between Jan. 1 and the PGA Championship, Aug. 15 -- one-half point was awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut earned points.