September 7, 2021 - 10:39 am
A spectacular closing stretch to the PGA Tour season could lead to longtime Las Vegas resident Kevin Na having his name called when Steve Stricker announces his Ryder Cup captain’s picks on Wednesday.
Six players qualified for the team — Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantley — leaving six additional picks for Stricker.
There are a handful of obvious selections — Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Harris English will all get tapped. Daniel Berger is most likely in after two wins since the pandemic restart and top-10 finishes in the U.S. Open, British Open and Players Championship.
That leaves one spot, and Na has done the work to earn it. He has a win in each of the last four years, and in six events over the past two months he has two ties for second, a tie for third, a tie for eighth and two other top-25 finishes.
That third-place finish came over the weekend at the Tour Championship, where he actually shared the low score of 14-under for the week but failed to win the title thanks to the bogus staggered scoring system that had him begin the tournament eight shots behind.
Na, for one, thinks he deserves a spot on his first national team at the age of 37.
“I was trying to win that secret leaderboard where everybody started from even par, to get Captain Stricker’s attention, so I could get a captain’s pick,” Na said Sunday.
Mission accomplished. Although Cantley walked off with the trophy and the $15 million prize, the Official World Golf Rankings recognized Na and Jon Rahm as winners of the tournament.
“Look, I did the best I could,” Na said of his late-season push. “I feel like I should be a big consideration for a pick.”
Na’s chief competition for the final spot appears to be Scottie Scheffler, who has zero career victories, and Patrick Reed, who is coming off an intense hospital stay for COVID and bilateral pneumonia.
There may actually be an extra pick for Stricker after Koepka withdrew during the third round of the Tour Championship with a wrist injury. Koepka has been mum on the severity of the injury, but he has just two weeks to heal before Ryder Cup week arrives.
Heartbreak Kid … again
Three weeks ago, Taylor Montgomery was the odd man out when the Korn Ferry Tour regular season ended and the top 25 players earned their PGA Tour cards. Montgomery dropped to 26th on the final day.
In the three-week Korn Ferry Tour Finals that wrapped up Sunday, another 25 cards were handed out. Montgomery again finished 26th.
He entered the final event 14th on the points list. But after the worst round of his professional career on Friday — an 85 — left him out of the weekend, his fate was in the hands of others.
It ultimately came down to Justin Lower needing to get up and down for par on the 72nd hole. The journeyman did it, nabbing the final card and sending Montgomery back to the Korn Ferry Tour next season.
“I’m pretty happy; I’m not going to lie,” Lower told Golf Channel while fighting tears. “Taylor Montgomery, if you’re listening, I’ve been in your spot before and it’s not any fun, but you’re a heck of a player and just keep grinding. Good things will happen.”
While Montgomery fell just short, one of his former UNLV teammates made it through. Kurt Kitayama finished 23rd to secure his first PGA Tour playing privileges. Since leaving UNLV in 2015, Kitayama has played all over the world and won twice on the European Tour.
Dolan wins senior title
Kim Dolan overcame a five-shot deficit in the final round to win the PGA Senior Professional Championship in Phoenix last week.
Dolan, from Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas, finished at 2-under 142 at Paradise Valley Country Club for a three-shot victory over Jon Stanley and Paul Trittler
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
What: BMW PGA Championship.
Where: Virginia Water, England; Wentworth GC (West) (7,267 yards, par 72).
When: Thursday-Friday, 5-11 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 5-10:30 a.m. (Golf Channel).
Prize money: $8 million. Winner’s share: $1.33 million.
Defending champion: Tyrrell Hatton.
Race to Dubai leader: Collin Morikawa.
PGA Tour Champions
What: Ascension Charity Classic.
Where: St. Louis Norwood Hills CC (6,882 yards, par 71).
When: Friday-Sunday, 12:30-3 p.m. (Golf Channel).
Prize money: $2 million. Winner’s share: $300,000.
Defending champion: New tournament.
Charles Schwab Cup leader: Bernhard Langer.
— The Associated Press