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Ryder Cup list appears set

Steve Stricker and Bo Van Pelt probably won't crack the top eight, who are automatic picks for the U.S. squad.

August 11, 2012|By Jeff Shain
  • Steve Stricker shot a five-under-par 67 at the PGA Championship on Saturday to keep his hopes alive for an automatic berth to the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Steve Stricker shot a five-under-par 67 at the PGA Championship on Saturday… (Lynne Sladky / Associated…)

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — — Unless Steve Stricker or Bo Van Pelt comes up with another huge round Sunday, the U.S. Ryder Cup roster will look the same as it was projected before the PGA Championship.

Stricker and Van Pelt each used five-under-par 67s Saturday to keep their hopes alive for one of the eight automatic roster spots drawn from a two-year points list. But both are far enough behind No. 8 Phil Mickelson that nothing less than a top-five finish will do.

Stricker, who has played on the past five Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup squads, must have PGA Championship earnings exceeding Mickelson's by slightly more than $300,000 to vault ahead. Points are awarded for every $1,000 in earnings, with points doubled for majors.

That would require no worse than a fifth-place finish, possibly higher if Mickelson gains ground Sunday.

It's an even steeper climb for Van Pelt, despite his being tied for fifth when storms halted play Saturday. He must finish no worse than a two-way tie for second.

Tiger Woods had clinched a berth before the week began, and the next six appear safe: Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

Captain Davis Love III gets to make four picks for the team before the Ryder Cup next month at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

Ryding it out

Carl Pettersson was born in Sweden, became a U.S. citizen in January — and can't play the Ryder Cup for either side.

U.S. bylaws stipulate that Ryder Cup players must bea citizen before their 18th birthday. And though Pettersson has represented Sweden in the World Cup two-man event, he isn't a European Tour member to qualify for that roster.

Pettersson won in April at the RBC Heritage, down the South Carolina coastline at Hilton Head Island.

Early riser

Joost Luiten, who cut his second round a hole short in Friday's fading light, returned to the Ocean Course at 7:30 a.m. and made it pay off with a birdie.

"If you make birdie, it's worth the wait," said the Dutch pro, whose 68-76 start took him to the third round four shots off the pace. He also birdied his first two holes of Round 3 and is one under for the tournament through 12 holes.

Luiten said he had a tough time seeing his tee shot at the par-three 17th late Friday, then couldn't follow playing partner Thomas Aiken's drive at No.18.

"I am not going to take the risk," he said. "If you hit it a little bit right and nobody sees it, you might lose your ball. I thought I would call it a day and wait until [Saturday]."

Aiken and club pro Alan Morin went ahead and played out their rounds, which didn't bother Luiten. "One was close to making the cut, but the other one was way out," he said. "I can understand it."

Tap-ins

One day after Kiawah Island shattered the PGA mark for highest scoring average, Saturday clocked in at a meek 72.67 before the storms hit. Five players beat Vijay Singh's Friday best of 69 — Van Pelt, Stricker and Jimmy Walker with 67s, and Dufner and David Lynn with 68s. … Saturday marked the seventh consecutive day that rain has fallen on Kiawah Island. August's first 11 days have brought 3.63 inches.

jshain@orlandosentinel.com

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