clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: PRELUDE TO RYDER CUP

In the expanding world of professional golf, national origin means less and less. Unless it's a Ryder Cup year.

The PGA Championship starting Thursday not only will be the last qualifying tournament for the U.S. team, but it will also give the Americans a lasting chance to gain a bragging advantage going into the cup.If it's an American who's kissing the PGA Championship trophy Sunday on the 18th green at Riviera Country Club, the U.S. will have swept the four major tournaments for the first time since 1982 and only the second time since 1977.

And that would come only a year after foreign golfers won all four major championships for the first time since the Masters came into being in 1934.

The party line from everyone involved is that it's all one golf world and it doesn't matter which country players are from.

But with the Ryder Cup the whole point is national identity.

"It's on your mind all of the time," Brad Faxon said about making the team. Faxon is 14th on the list coming into the PGA and only the top 10 make it, with the last two spots filled by captain Lanny Wadkins next Monday.

Currently on the team are U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, Tom Lehman, Davis Love, Phil Mickelson, Jay Haas, Loren Roberts, Masters winner Ben Crenshaw, Peter Jacobsen, Mark Calcavecchia and Kenny Perry.

Jim Gallagher Jr., Jeff Maggert and Scott Hoch stand between Faxon and Perry.

Also within striking distance are Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart, Fuzzy Zoeller and Curtis Strange.

The wildest of the wild cards is John Daly, whose British Open victory vaulted him to 16th place in the Ryder Cup standings. He would make life a lot easier for Wadkins if he won the PGA and made the Ryder Cup team flat out. In fact, he could make the team with as low as a two-way tie for fifth place here if no one in the 10th through 15th spot gets any points.

Daly is not the type of fairways-and-greens player Wadkins is looking for. But he is a crowd favorite, can scare opponents with his drives and would be a compelling partner in either alternating shot or better ball play.

"He'd be a good guy to be with as a partner," Faxon said about Daly. "He hits those booming drives."

The player who does well at Riviera Country Club this week will also have to be a consistent player, someone who hits lots of fairways and can bend the ball both ways. Someone like Pavin.

It doesn't seem like a John Daly kind of course and if he doesn't play his way onto the Ryder Cup team, Wadkins should be able to say that Oak Hill is also the kind of course that Daly can't handle.