PARAMUS, N.J. – With two-thirds of the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team already finalized, players on the outside looking in began last week's The Northern Trust with two, possibly three, events to make an impression on Captain Jim Furyk.
And two players who broke from the gates as strongly as possible were Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau.
DeChambeau, 24, ran away to his second victory in two months, shooting 18-under 266 at Ridgefield Country Club to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs opener by four shots.
The victory basically means DeChambeau will go to East Lake in Atlanta for the Tour Championship in a few weeks as one of five players who control their own destiny in the FedEx Cup race. Win the Tour Championship, win the cup. But winning also ensured he’d get the attention of Captain Furyk, and that was important to him, too.
“I said I was a man on a mission yesterday, and hopefully he can see that I've got some grit and grind, and that even when I don't execute certain shots, I can get it done,” said DeChambeau, who collected his third PGA Tour victory before his 25th birthday.
The cutoff to gain points toward the U.S. team's eight automatic spots ended at the PGA Championship. DeChambeau missed a short putt at his 36th hole, missed the cut by one, and ended up No. 9 in the standings. Winning at Ridgewood was a payoff for some extra hours he’s been putting into his game. DeChambeau was fifth in strokes gained: putting and led the field at The Northern Trust in birdies, with 24. Those are the types of standout numbers that can get a Ryder Cup captain’s attention.
“It's been a lot of hard work this past month,” DeChambeau said. “It's not been seamless, and you know, not making the top eight in the Ryder Cup, it was disappointing for sure.”
Finau, who turns 29 next month, is another player hoping to earn his way onto his first Ryder Cup team as a captain’s selection. He finished 15th in the final Ryder Cup points table on the U.S. side.
He didn’t putt great on Sunday, but he still played well enough to post his fourth consecutive round in the 60s (68) and hold off Billy Horschel and Cameron Smith for second place. Finau was one of a handful of players who joined Furyk at Le Golf National outside Paris this summer ahead of the Open Championship at Carnoustie. He also played alongside Furyk at the PGA Championship, making 10 birdies at Bellerive Country Club in the second round.
“If I’m in the conversation, this doesn’t hurt my chances, I don’t believe,” Finau said on Sunday at Ridgewood after his second runner-up finish of 2017-18. “I had a solid week all around. My game feels good and I feel confident. Whatever his decision is, I’ll be ready to play.”
Here’s a look at how a handful of other top candidates trying to secure one of Furyk’s four captain’s selections performed at Ridgewood:
• Tiger Woods, who ranked 11th in points, had a strange week, making only nine birdies, but also made only five bogeys. He drove the ball very well and simply couldn’t get the putter to cooperate. He tied for 40th. Tiger Woods' career Ryder Cup record
• Phil Mickelson, who was 10th in points, got off to a fast start in New Jersey – at one point early Friday, he was tied for the lead. After three consecutive 68s he shot 71 on Sunday and tied for 15th. He drove the ball well in his middle two rounds, but in the first round hit only three fairways and on Sunday hit five. He’ll need to drive it better to be a factor this week at the Dell Technologies outside Boston. He has not missed being on a U.S. national team dating to the 1994 Presidents Cup. Phil Mickelson's career Ryder Cup record
• Matt Kuchar never got much going at Ridgewood, tying for 60th. He made only 12 birdies on the week. Kuchar has played on the last eight U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, and if he’s to continue his streak, he likely needs to come up big in his next two starts.
• Kevin Kisner made only two birdies on the weekend at Ridgewood and tied for 73rd. Usually a very good putter, he was T-59 in strokes gained: putting on the greens at Ridgwood, and 78th in strokes gained: around the green. Like Kuchar, he might need to do something really significant in Boston or Philadelphia the next two weeks.
• Xander Schauffele, who was 12th in the Ryder Cup standings, missed the cut at Northern Trust, shooting 73-70. He hit 20 fairways and 24 greens in two rounds, but struggled with his putting. He is trying to make his first U.S. Ryder Cup team.
• Brandt Snedeker, a veteran of two Ryder Cup teams who put himself back on the radar by shooting 59 and winning the Wyndham Championship the previous week, withdrew from the Northern Trust, citing back spasms. He hopes to play in this week’s Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston.
Furyk will announce three of his captain's selections on Sept. 4, the day after the Dell Technologies. He'll fill out his team with his 12th player on Sept. 10, following the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club.