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End of Year 2013: Where we stand on 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team

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End of Year 2013: Where we stand on 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team
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(Montana Pritchard, The PGA of America )

As we close out 2013 calendar year, let's take a quick look at where we stand in Ryder Cup Standings.

We're still in the infancy stages of how the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team will fill out, but here's a look at the current top 12 with the 2013 point-getting period in the books (the top-9 point-getters at the conclusion of the 2014 PGA Championship automatically qualify, while Watson will be allowed three captain's selections to fill out the 12-man squad):

1. Phil Mickelson 2. Jason Dufner 3. Dustin Johnson 4. Ryan Moore 5. Harris English 6. Webb Simpson 7. Jimmy Walker 8. Chris Kirk 9. Jim Furyk ------------------- 10. Jason Bohn 11. Gary Woodland 12. Brian Stuard

Noticeably absent from the current top 12, are the likes of Tiger Woods (currently No. 15), Matt Kuchar (No. 16) Zach Johnson (No. 17) and Steve Stricker (No. 26).

TEAM USA: Latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings | Qualifying process explained

There's a simple explanation for that -- during the non-Ryder Cup year, 2013 in this case, one point was awarded for every $1,000 earned in major championships only. All U.S. players making the cut earned points.

Things are different for the 2014 season, the actual Ryder Cup year. Beginning Oct. 7, 2013 at the Frys.com Open through the 2014 PGA Championship, ending Aug. 10, 2014 (remember, the first six events of the PGA Tour's new wraparound schedule for 2014 where actually contested in 2013, so points were awarded at those events), players are awarded one point for every $1,000 earned, excluding the major championships, events played opposite major championships and events played opposite World Golf Championship.

All U.S. players making the cut will earn points.

Two points are awarded for every $1,000 earned in the four major championships -- Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and the PGA Championship -- again, all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.

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One-half point is awarded for every $1,000 earned to all U.S. players making the cut in 2014 events played opposite the major championships and opposite World Golf Championships between Jan. 1 and the 2014 PGA Championship.

All of this means that the standings will fluctuate and become far more volatile around the majors. All told, beginning with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions the first week in January, there will be a total of 34 events in which U.S. players can gain points toward Ryder Cup qualification.

So, we're roughly one fourth of the way there.

In a couple of his Captain's Blogs earlier this year, Watson explained it's too soon to get excited about the standings since there's so much time left for players to gain points.

"By June next year (2014) we should have a good understanding of guys that will be on the team and guys that will be on the bubble," Watson wrote in one post.

In his post following the 2013 Masters -- the first event offering 2014 Ryder Cup points for U.S. players -- Watson said, "With the 2013 Masters behind us, we now have some actual points for U.S. players hoping to make the team for 2014, but to be honest, it's entirely too early to even look at the points list. I really enjoy baseball and that would be like looking at a ball player's batting average after three games. Is that indicative of how his entire season will play out? No way."

To Watson's point, a lot will change before we hit Aug. 10. This is just where things stand for now.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

By: T.J. Auclair, PGA.com

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