T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair .
Though it's still several months away, it isn't too early to start talking about the 2014 Ryder Cup .
Over the course of the next eight months, there will be a number of shifts in the U.S. team standings . The Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui, which ended Monday night, was the 11th opportunity overall for players to earn points (the four majors in 2013, along with seven official 2014 events -- yes, seven. Remember, the PGA Tour's new wraparound schedule means that the new Tour season officially began back in October).
Here's a look at some changes in the top 20 following the Tournament of Champions.
Zach Johnson, winner of the Tournament of Champions, was the lone player to crack the top 10 in the U.S. standings who wasn't previously there before the tournament. The victory allowed Johnson to squeak from No. 17 to the No. 6 spot.
Jordan Speith, the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, made the biggest leap in the standings, soaring from No. 71 to No. 14 this week on the strength of his second-place showing in Maui. Speith was one of Fred Couples' captain's picks for the winning 2013 U.S. Presidents Cup team at Muirfield Village, so he's already got that team-format experience under his belt.
Matt Kuchar (No. 16 to No. 13) and Brandt Snedeker (No. 18 to No. 15) jumped three spots each, respectively.
Tiger Woods did not play and dropped five spots, going from No. 15 to No. 20.
As a refresher, here's how players can earn points in 2014 :
- Prize money earned in 2014 PGA Tour events, beginning Oct. 7, 2013, at the Frys.com Open through the 2014 PGA Championship, ending Aug. 10, 2014. One point is 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 will earn points.
- Prize money earned for the 2014 major championships: (Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and the PGA Championship). Two points are awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
- Prize money earned in 2014 events played opposite the major championships and opposite World Golf Championships between Jan. 1 and the 2014 PGA Championship - one-half point will be awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
- Team USA captain Tom Watson will complete the team with three Captain's selections in September 2014.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair .