HOYLAKE, England — The last Grand Slam of the year has come and gone, and many questions remain about the composition of the US and European Ryder Cup teams.
Almost two months after the event, the Open Championship served as a suitable arena for many players to present strong arguments for their candidacy. For others, it raised more questions about whether they should be on their respective teams come September.
Here are the players who bolstered their case for Roma this week and those who didn’t:
Brian Harman: Stock Up
Harman should have his passport handy because he’s probably going to Rome. Points and world rankings aside, there’s no way Harman is going to be left out of the team after taking home the Claret Jug and jumping to No. 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings. The Georgia native was 20th in the Ryder Cup rankings at the start of the week, and now he is sure to make a considerable leap forward and become a fixture in the team in September, when Marco Simone Golf Club should be a good fit for his eye and game.
“I enjoy the games,” Harman said Sunday, refusing to hurt his chances of making the team. “I’ve done well in all the match-play tournaments I’ve played in. I had a very good junior and amateur record in match play. I enjoy head-to-head competition.”
Max Homa: Stock Up
It could be argued that what Homa did at the Presidents Cup last year (four wins from four matches) was enough to guarantee him a spot on the USA Ryder Cup team. But coming into the week in Hoylake, Homa had struggled to excel in the majors, especially missing the cut at the US Open.
Homa showed up at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club this week without much attention, freed up and ready to play his game. He showed. He shot 68 in the opening round, but followed up with a disappointing 73. Then on Saturday, he was paired with Rory McIlroy and battled against McIlroy’s atmosphere favorites to hit a 70. On Sunday, Homa moved up to a tie for 10th, giving him his best finish in a major and further momentum towards a Ryder Cup place.
Tony Finau: Stocks Down
Here are Finau’s last seven starts: T-23, T-72, missed cut, T-32, T-45, missed cut, missed cut. Although Finau won the Mexican Open in April, his run of poor results also includes three majors in which his best finish was T-32 at the US Open, not exactly ideal for someone who was probably a safe pick when the year began.
Justin Thomas: Stock unclear
All the results, statistics and logic say that Thomas should not be in this year’s Ryder Cup squad. He has missed four cuts in his last six starts and has thrown two of the worst rounds of his career in the last two major championships. And yet no one seems to be too concerned about him. Captain Zach Johnson, who roomed with Thomas this week at The Open, didn’t hint at whether Thomas’ performance would keep him out of the team, calling him “faithful at the event” and saying he’s not worried about him long-term because it’s only a matter of time before he finds him.
Thomas has to find him soon. He is sitting outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup playoff picture (75) and will have to play the 3M Open and the Wyndham Championship to try to get into next year’s designated events. If Thomas doesn’t make the playoffs, it’s hard to see how Johnson would be justified in taking him.
Collin Morikawa: Low Stocks
Morikawa hasn’t been the same since January, when Jon Rahm tracked him down 9 shots on the final day of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. A top-10 finish at the Masters felt like a positive sign that he was headed in the right direction, but since then, Morikawa has missed five cuts, including this week at The Open.
The 26-year-old withdrew from Memorial with a back injury, and while he said he was healthy enough to play at the US Open, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll need extended time off that could jeopardize his selection for Rome.
Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth: neutral actions
Spieth and Fowler didn’t play their best golf at Hoylake, but they didn’t play their worst golf either. Both ended up even after they matched up on Sunday. Their performances this season, in the case of Fowler, and their previous experience in team events, in the case of Spieth, should be good enough for them both to make the team.
Cameron Young: Stock Up
Despite a disappointing finish in the final group on Sunday, Young showed he is back on form after back-to-back top-10 finishes (6th in the John Deere Classic, tied for 8th in The Open). Young had struggled for the past three months, missing the cut at the PGA Championship and his highest finish ever being a tie for 32nd at the US Open. But Hoylake proved that he’s changed his game, and next month might be time enough to show that he deserves a spot on Team USA.
Sepp Straka: stock up
Had it not been for teammate Georgia Bulldog Harman, the Austrian player could have won this year’s Open Championship and taken home his first major title, as well as a guaranteed spot on the European team. Regardless, Straka is likely to be in after his recent run that now includes a second-place finish at a major. Four top-10 finishes this season, a top-5 finish at The Open and a win at the John Deere Classic should be more than enough for him to qualify for one of the top six spots or become one of Luke Donald’s six picks.
Robert MacIntyre: Stock Up
As of this weekend, MacIntyre was sitting third in the European Ryder Cup standings, meaning he would automatically qualify for the team if the season ended on Sunday. Despite a T-71 finish at The Open, thanks to his second-place finish at the Scottish Open, MacIntyre has put himself in an excellent position to make the team.
Alex Noren: Stock Up
The world number 67 ranked player would normally not be mentioned among the contenders for a place in the Ryder Cup. But after a good week at The Open in which he finished even, Noren could be considered for one of the last spots on the team given his experience. Noren went 2-1-0 in his Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National in France and beat Bryson DeChambeau in their singles match, which defeated the Americans. If Donald decides to take the more experienced route to his captain’s pick rather than youth and potential, like Ludvig Aberg, expect to see Noren receive significant consideration.
Adrian Meronk: Stock Up
Meronk’s performance in the major championships this year has left a lot to be desired. Coming into The Open, Meronk had missed the cut at the previous three majors. But he has a European tour win this season, as well as an Italian Open win at Marco Simone Golf Club, which alone could give him a guaranteed spot on the team.
The 30-year-old Polish player helped himself this week by turning in a strong performance at Royal Liverpool, finishing even and tied for 23rd for by far the best result of his career in a major championship. That will probably not only increase his point total in the Ryder Cup standings (currently fifth), but also make it easier for Donald to pick him should he fall outside of the automatic places.
Rasmus Højgaard: Low shares; Nicolai Højgaard: Stock Up
The Hojgaard twins had very different outings at Hoylake as Rasmus fell to 7 and missed the cut, while Nicolai finished even and tied for 23rd. The reversal of roles complicates things a bit for Donald, given that if either of them were to be picked, it looked like Rasmus was the favorite going into the week. While Rasmus was sixth in the Ryder Cup standings, Nicolai was 38th. It will be interesting to see how Donald approaches the two and whether he decides to bring both of them (unlikely), one of them (most likely) or neither.
Víctor Pérez and Yannik Paul: Stocks down
It wasn’t the best week for Paul or Perez. Paul entered the week fourth in the Ryder Cup standings but missed the cut, while Perez, who was seventh in the standings, made the cut but finished tied for 41st. At the moment, both still look likely to be in, but they’ll need to continue to perform well on the European tour over the next few weeks to secure their places. Like Noren, both will hope their age and experience are considered assets when it comes to rounding out the squad, rather than a reason to be passed over by young, up-and-coming players like Aberg, the Hojgaard twins or even Chassart’s Adrien Dumont.