Mahan rockets to second place

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has worked in different ways for Hunter Mahan and Padraig Harrington.

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has worked in different ways for Hunter Mahan and Padraig Harrington.
It has rocketed its winner, Hunter Mahan, from 10th to 2nd in the US Ryder Cup standings, but left Padraig Harrington still looking to earn one of Europe’s nine automatic Ryder Cup qualification places despite his 9th place finish at Firestone Country Club.
The 22nd place finish on Sunday of Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez was just enough for him to hang on to the ninth and last qualifying spot with three weeks to go.
In so far as the US is concerned, only the top eight will qualify after this coming week’s US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and Tiger Woods – a shocking joint 78th out of 80 on a career-worst 18 over par on Sunday – moves down from ninth to 10th spot.
The US player pushed out of an automatic top-eight position is Dustin Johnson.
Woods looks like needing about an eighth-placed finish on Sunday just to have a chance of making the side without requiring a wild card from captain Corey Pavin.
Only on Wednesday – when the PGA of America announce the prize money for the final major of the season – can the exact calculations be made.
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational had no effect on the leading nine European qualifying positions in what proved a disappointing week for the Brits and mainland Europeans. Swede Peter Hanson at eighth was their highest-placed finisher at Firestone.
Most worrying, of course, was the withdrawal of Lee Westwood – the clear leader in the standings – after two rounds because of his ruptured calf muscle.
He misses this week’s US PGA Championship, the final major of the season, and is battling to recover fitness in time for the Ryder Cup matches at Celtic Manor on October 1-3.
Four players – Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter – look to have to have safely secured their places in Colin Montgomerie’s side, but for the rest it could go to the wire.
As things stand Harrington, Justin Rose and Paul Casey look favourites for the three wild cards.
Latest leading positions in the European Ryder Cup table after the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (top four on world list qualify, then next five on European points list. Captain Colin Montgomerie adds three wild cards on August 29):
1 LEE WESTWOOD 422.0, 2 RORY McILROY 281.9, 3 GRAEME McDOWELL 249.3, 4 LUKE DONALD 231.1, 5 Edoardo Molinari 214.4, 5 Ian Poulter 211.2, 7 Padraig Harrington 204.9, 8 Justin Rose 195.7, 9 Martin Kaymer 185.4, 10 Francesco Molinari 168.5
1 Lee Westwood 3,446,137, 2 Graeme McDowell 2,305,136, 3 IAN POULTER 2,236,968, 4 Rory McIlroy 2,036,678, 5 ROSS FISHER 1,706,709, 6 MARTIN KAYMER 1,609,405, 7 FRANCESCO MOLINARI 1,584,447, 8 MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ 1,497,870, 9 Padraig Harrington 1,484,624, 10 Ross McGowan 1,383,587
(Capitals denote players in qualifying positions)
Latest leading positions in the United States Ryder Cup table (top eight qualify on August 15, captain Corey Pavin adds four wild cards on September 7):
1 PHIL MICKELSON 5,818pts, 2 HUNTER MAHAN 4,043, 3 JIM FURYK 3,646, 4 STEVE STRICKER 3,528, 5 JEFF OVERTON 3,505, 6 ANTHONY KIM 3,274, 7 MATT KUCHAR 3,064, 8 LUCAS GLOVER 3,052, 9 Dustin Johnson 3,032, 10 Tiger Woods 2,809