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Final PGA Tour rankings -- Monday, September 24, 2012

The SportsXchange

The Sports Xchange's PGA Tour rankings are selected by TSX Golf Staff, based on play in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, with more emphasis on recent results.

2012 FINAL RANKINGS

1. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- The No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings began the Tour Championship with three rounds in the 60s and still had a chance to win the FedEx Cup when he started the final round four strokes behind co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose. Then he closed with a 4-over-par 74, ending a streak of 11 consecutive scores in the 60s, and skidded to a tie for 10th. Even though he won two events in his first appearance in the PGA Tour playoffs, he wound up second in the FedEx Cup standings. ... Jim Furyk said that Rory will be a marked man in the Ryder Cup matches this week at Medinah, but the 23-year-old has shown that he is up to any challenge the way he has played the last month or so, padding his lead atop the World Golf Rankings. He had a 1-1-2 record in his Ryder Cup debut two years ago at Celtic Manor in Wales, halving his singles match with Stewart Cink. Like most of the Euros, McIlroy played more match play than the Americans growing up, and this year he made it to the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship before losing to Hunter Mahan, 2 and 1. He also tied for fifth in the tournament in 2009. ... McIlroy played the first seven holes of the final round of the Tour Championship in 4-over and never recovered, carding only two birdies in the final round, the first coming on the 12th hole. The numbers tell the story: He hit only 2 of 14 fairways, 10 of 14 greens in regulation and took 31 putts. Maybe he was due for an off day after winning three of his last four tournaments, starting with the PGA Championship.

2. Tiger Woods, United States -- Woods still had an opportunity to win the FedEx Cup for a third time when he started the final round four shots out of the lead in the Tour Championship, but he closed with a 2-over-par 72 and tied for eighth. He led the FedEx Cup standings after the regular season and was second heading into the final week before finishing third following his third consecutive top-10 finish. However, he often has not been able to finish well after being almost automatic in the past. ... In his prime, Tiger was considered the best match-play competitor in the world, particularly in singles. He has captured the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship three times, in 2003, 2004 and 2008, but his Ryder Cup record is only 13-14-2 and he has played on only one winning U.S. team in the event, in 1999 at Brookline. However, Woods' record in doubles has been much better in recent team events while pairing with Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, and Woods has won six of his last nine matches against the Euros. His record in Ryder Cup singles is 4-1-1, including a 4-and-3 trouncing of Francesco Molinari two years ago in Wales. After Nick Watney beat him in the second round of the Accenture this year, his record is 50-16-2 in match-play singles as a pro. Woods won the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006 at Medinah, site of the matches this week. ... Woods played brilliant golf while opening with a 66 to tie for the lead last week at East Lake, hitting more than 70 percent of the fairways and greens while taking only 26 putts. However, he was all over the place in the last three rounds, even when he scrambled for a 67 on Saturday.

3. Bubba Watson, United States -- With an outside chance to win the FedEx Cup if he could win the Tour Championship, Bubba started fast last week at East Lake but couldn't make anything happen on the weekend and finished in a tie for fifth. Despite his second top-10 finish of the PGA Tour playoffs, he slipped two spots to 13th in the final FedEx Cup standings, but that is his best finish in the three years he has made it to the postseason. ... The Masters champion will be playing in the Ryder Cup for the second time. He posted a 1-3 record two years ago at Celtic Manor and was beaten in singles by veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, 4 and 3. However, Watson has begun to realize his potential with added maturity since, winning three tournaments in the last two years. He reached the semifinals of the 2011 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship before Martin Kaymer of Germany beat him, 1 up, in a replay of their playoff at the 2010 PGA Championship, also won by Kaymer. Watson had a 3-2 record to help the Americans retain the Presidents Cup last year but lost his singles match to Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, 3 and 2. ... After starting with rounds of 69-66 in the Tour Championship, Watson couldn't make a move on the leaders with he finished with two consecutive rounds of even-par 70. After making only three bogeys in the first 51 holes, he needed four shots to reach the 16th green on Saturday and took a double-bogey 6. Then his four birdies on Sunday were canceled out by four bogeys, including three on the first nine holes.

4. Luke Donald, England -- Looking for some momentum heading into the Ryder Cup this week at Medinah, near his adopted hometown of Chicago, Donald found it by finishing with three rounds in the 60s to tie for third in the Tour Championship. After finishing third in the FedEx Cup standings each of the last two seasons, he wound up ninth this time. ... Despite being routed by Ernie Els, 5 and 4, in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship earlier this year, Donald is one of the best match players in the world and has been a Ryder Cup stalwart. He has posted an 8-2-1 record in his three previous appearances for the Euros, including 2-1 in singles, registering a vital 1-up victory over Jim Furyk to help defeat the Americans two years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the Accenture last year by beating his Ryder Cup teammate, Martin Kaymer of Germany, 3 and 2, in the final, and lost to countryman Ian Poulter, 2 and 1, in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain later in the year. ... After opening with a 1-over-par 71 last week in the Tour Championship, Donald went 69-67-67 over the last three days at East Lake. Had he putted better in the first two rounds, he might have been in the hunt at the finish instead of finishing four shots back. Luke took a total of 63 putts over the first 36 holes but had only 55 on the weekend. He played the last six holes in 7-under on the weekend, with six birdies and an eagle, and he holed his second shot from 159 yards on No. 14 in round three.

5. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Lefty was one of five players who could have claimed the FedEx Cup with a victory in the Tour Championship, but he never really challenged, finishing in a tie for 15th. After climbing from 14th to fourth in the FedEx Cup standings in the first three rounds of the PGA Tour playoffs, he wound up fifth, short of his second-place finish in 2009. ... Lefty will be making his ninth appearance in the Ryder Cup this week and is another one of the Americans whose record in the event (11-17-6) needs a little work. However, in the past he would begin to shut down after the PGA Championship, but the PGA Tour playoffs have helped him keep his game sharp for the team events in the last few years. Two years ago at Celtic Manor, he evened his singles record in the event at 4-4 with a 4-and-2 victory over Peter Hanson of Sweden as the Americans rallied on the final day only to fall short. He has been much better in the Presidents Cup, posting an 18-14 record, including 3-1 last year to help the Americans win even though he lost in singles to Adam Scott, 2 and 1. ... Mickelson opened and closed with scores of 1-under-par 69 at East Lake but could manage only 71-72 in the middle rounds. He might have been able to at least equal par every day if not for double-bogey 6s on the seventh hole in round two and the first in round three. After taking a total of 63 putts with his new claw grip in his first two rounds, he had only 55 on the weekend.

6. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- If you had been looking at the five players who had a chance to take home the FedEx Cup with a victory in the Tour Championship, Snedeker probably wouldn't have been your first choice. Or second. Or third. But as Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson fell back, the 31-year-old Snedeker shot 64-68 on the weekend to win by three strokes and take home both trophies and the $10 million prize for winning the postseason title. It was the second victory the season and the biggest of his four titles on the PGA Tour. ... The 31-year-old Snedeker has been close to making the Ryder and Presidents Cup teams before, but this week he finally gets his chance -- he will be one of four rookies on the U.S. team at Medinah. He beat out the likes of Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, who have Ryder Cup experience, because of his strong start in the PGA Tour playoffs. Of course, it didn't hurt that he is one of the best putters around, and these things always seem to come down to making putts. Look for Love to match Sneds with one of his veterans, perhaps Jim Furyk, or put him with one of the bombers, such as Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson. If the captain is looking for an all-rookie team, how about long-hitting Keegan Bradley and short-game standout Snedeker? ... Snedeker bounced back from a double-bogey 5 on the sixth hole of the final round at East Lake, where his tee shot found the water, the only other blemish on his scorecard coming when he made bogey on the final hole. He charged into a tie for the lead with a bogey-free, 6-under-par 64 on Saturday, including four birdies in a span of six holes through No. 10. Sneds hit more than 70 percent of the fairways and greens while averaging 27.5 putts per round.

7. Jason Dufner, United States -- After skipping the opener of the PGA Tour playoffs, the Barclays, Dufner was unable to regain his earlier form in the last three events, and last week he wound up in a tie for 20th in his third Tour Championship. He opened the playoffs at second in the FedEx Cup standings but was down to 14th at the finish. ... Duf will be making his Ryder Cup and professional team debut this week at Medinah at the age of 35, but he has shown since late last year than he can be a big-time player, finishing second in the PGA Championship and posting his first two PGA Tour victories this year in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the HP Byron Nelson Classic. Still, look for captain Davis Love III to put him out in the doubles events with a veteran such as Phil Mickelson or Jim Furyk. Duf has not played much match play, and he lost to Peter Hanson of Sweden, a member of the European team, 2 and 1, in the first round of his initial appearance in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship earlier this year. ... Dufner opened with two rounds of even-par 70 last week at East Lake but shot 71-73 on the weekend. His best result in the playoffs was a tie for 18th in the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he opened with 67-66 but played the last two rounds in 70-74. He finished the finale last week with his worst score of the week, a 73, and his only birdie came on the par-5 ninth hole. A birdie machine most of the year, Duf had only nine this time.

8. Zach Johnson, United States -- Following a quick start in the Tour Championship, Zach played the weekend in 70-74 and slipped to a tie for 15th. He started the PGA Tour playoffs at fourth in the FedEx Cup standings, but after failing to finish in the top 10 in any of the four postseason tournaments, he wound up 12th. ... Johnson's turnaround season, with victories in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and in the John Deere Classic, helped him land on the Ryder Cup team for the third time, and he has a 3-3-1 record in the biennial event. He posted a 2-1 record, including a 3-and-2 singles victory over Padraig Harrington of Ireland two years ago at Celtic Manor. He also has a 4-5 record in two Presidents Cup appearances, losing to Adam Scott of Australia (2007) and Tim Clark of South Africa in singles (2009). The 2007 Masters champion plays a straight and steady game, so he might be an ideal partner for any one of the younger big hitters on the U.S. team, such as Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley. He also could give them veteran guidance. ... Zach had a promising start with 68-69 at East Lake, carding only three bogeys in the first 36 holes. However, a total of nine bogeys in the last two rounds sent him in the wrong direction. He salvaged an even-par 70 with three birdies on the back nine on Saturday, but after a birdie on the first hole Sunday, he could not make even one more. Johnson's biggest problem was his putter -- he averaged 29.8 putts per round.

9. Hunter Mahan, United States -- Snapping out of his disappointment from missing out on the Ryder Cup, which led to him finishing 70th and dead last at the BMW Championship, Mahan shot 4-under-par 66 in the final round of the Tour Championship to tie for eighth. Still, after starting the PGA Tour playoffs at sixth in the FedEx Cup standings, he finished 19th. ... Mahan has said he probably won't even watch the Ryder Cup matches this week after he did not make the team, although he realizes it's his own fault for not playing better after recording victories early in the season at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and in the Shell Houston Open. He dearly wanted to make up for losing the deciding match to Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, 3 and 1, in the anchor spot two years ago in Wales. Hunter knocked off Rory McIlroy, now the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings, 2 and 1, in the Accenture final, and it will be interesting to see how the American drawn against Rory does in the singles this week at Medinah. ... After carding three birdies in each of the first three rounds last week at East Lake, Mahan rang up seven in the final round, recording his best score since another 66 in the final round of the RBC Canadian Open in July. Had he played like that more often recently, he would be going to Medinah this week. Mahan opened with a 68 in the finale but shot 71-73 in the middle rounds, taking him out of title contention. After averaging 31.3 putts per round through Saturday, he needed only 28 putts on Sunday.

10. Webb Simpson, United States -- Simpson saved his best for last at the Players Championship, shooting 4-under-par 66 in the final round to tie for fifth, his best result since he captured the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in June. That lifted him nine spots to 16th in the FedEx Cup standings, after he finished second to Bill Haas last year. ... Simpson is making his Ryder Cup debut this week at Medinah. He posted a 3-2 record in his initial professional team competition to help the U.S. retain the Presidents Cup last year at Royal Melbourne, where he lost to K.T. Kim of South Korea in singles, 1 down. He helped the Americans get out to an early lead by recording a 3-0 mark alongside Bubba Watson before they lost to Charl Schwartzel and Retief Goosen of South Africa in the Saturday four-ball match, so that's a combination you might see from captain Davis Love III this week. As an amateur, Simpson posted a 0-2-1 record in the 2007 Walker Cup and a 2-2 mark in the 2007 Palmer Cup as the Americans won both times. ... After carding six bogeys in an opening round of 71 last week at East Lake, Simpson had only six more in his final 54 holes. He carded his only bogey of the final round on the fourth hole, then reeled off five birdies the rest of the way. Webb made six birdies in the final 10 holes of a 67 on Saturday and might have had another round in the 60s if not for two bogeys on his last four holes in a 70 on Saturday. After taking 31 putts on Thursday, he averaged 28.0 the rest of the way.

11. Dustin Johnson, United States -- DJ was in the hunt for two rounds last week in the Tour Championship but played the weekend in 73-70 and finished in a tie for 10th. He entered the finale at seventh in the FedEx Cup standings with a chance to claim the title but wound up eighth after finishing fourth last year. ... Johnson made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago at Celtic Manor and posted a 1-3 record, finally getting it going during the singles portion of the event to rout Martin Kaymer of Germany, 6 and 4, as the Americans made a rally that came up short the last day. He also had a 1-3-1 record in his initial appearance in the Presidents Cup last year, losing his singles match to Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, 2 and 1. Johnson posted his best finish in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, a tie for ninth, earlier this year, beating Ryder Cup teammate Jim Furyk and Francesco Molinari, who is on the European team, before losing to Mark Wilson. Captain Davis Love III is counting on his power to shorten up the course during the doubles matches at Medinah. ... Johnson opened with 69-67 last week at East Lake, carding only one bogey each day, but he had eight bogeys and a double bogey over the last 36 holes to fall back. He hit fewer than half the fairways, but even though he managed to find two-thirds of the greens in regulation, he often wasn't close to the hole and averaged 29.8 putts per round.

12. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Finishing off a disappointing run through his second appearance in the PGA Tour playoffs, Bradley never got it going last week and finished in a tie for 23rd in the Tour Championship. After starting the postseason 14th in the FedEx Cup standings, he wound up 21st after finishing 20th a year ago as a rookie and needs to find something in the next few days ahead of his first Ryder Cup. ... Bradley is making his debut in the Ryder Cup and also in the team events as a pro, although there was a bit of a controversy last year when he captured the PGA Championship and was left off the Presidents Cup team. Captain Greg Norman of the International team said Keegan should have made the U.S. team instead of Tiger Woods, but captain Fred Couples said there was no way Tiger wasn't going to Royal Melbourne. The 26-year-old Bradley, in his second year on the PGA Tour, might be inexperienced, but he has proved to be a big-time player, winning the PGA last year and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August. Phil Mickelson has taken him under his wing, so that's a team captain Davis Love III might trot out there at Medinah. ... The best Bradley could do in four rounds at East Lake last week were scores of even-par 70 in the first and third rounds. He carded a double bogey in each of his last three rounds and tied for second in the field in that negative department. Bradley hit in the neighborhood of 60 percent of the fairways and greens while averaging 29.5 putts with his belly model.

13. Ernie Els, South Africa -- The Big Easy still has not had his best stuff since winning the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and last week he was never in the running at the Tour Championship, finishing solo 27th. He wound up 26th in the FedEx Cup standings, down from 11th at the end of the regular season after he did not finish in the top 25 in any of the playoff events. ... Even though it's not a Presidents Cup year, Els has plenty of golf left, and October promises to be particularly busy. He ranks fifth in the European Tour's Race to Dubai and will try to improve his standing next week when he plays in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbairns in Scotland for the 11th time. He has recorded five finishes in the top 10, including second in 2001, one stroke behind Paul Lawrie, and again in 2003, one shot behind Lee Westwood. Then he will play two weeks later in the Frys.com Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., because the course owner is one of his sponsors, and in the third week of the month he will play in the Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, thanks to his victory in the Open Championship. ... After three rounds in the 70s last week at East Lake, Els seemed to be on his way to a solid finish, but he played the last four holes in 4-over-par, including a double-bogey 6 on No. 18, and closed with a 71. He ranked near the bottom of the field in all statistical categories, but the worst was hitting only 27 of 72 fairways.

14. Justin Rose, England -- Even though he wasn't going to win the FedEx Cup with a victory in the Tour Championship, Rose was in the hunt much of the way in the Tour Championship before finishing second to Brandt Snedeker, three shots back. The two started the final round tied for the lead, but the Englishman carded bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes, didn't make his only two birdies until the back nine and shot 1-over-par 71. His big windup lifted him 18 spots to sixth in the FedEx Cup standings. ... Rose might come into the Ryder Cup with a bit of chip on his shoulder because he was left off the team in 2010 by captain Colin Montgomerie even though he had victories in the Memorial and the AT&T National. Monty got a heap of criticism in the European media, and it would have been worse had the Euros not pulled out a one-point victory at Celtic Manor. Rosy is making his second appearance in the Ryder Cup and was a bright spot for the Europeans in a 2008 defeat at Valhalla, where he posted a 3-1 record, including a 3-and-1 victory over Phil Mickelson. His only liability might be his putting, so captain Jose Maria Olazabal might pair him with short-game stalwart Ian Poulter because they posted a 2-1 record as a team four years ago at Valhalla. ... Rose was in or near the lead through the first three rounds at East Lake with scores of 66-68-68. He tied for the lead in the first round by carding five birdies in the last 10 holes and did not make a bogey in his 68 on Saturday. He hit nearly 70 percent of the greens and averaged 28.5 putts per round.

15. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Gallery favorite Kuchar had the fans in Atlanta believing the Georgia Tech grad might have a chance to win the Tour Championship after 36 holes, but he faded on the weekend to finish in a tie for 10th. While it was his best finish in three appearances at East Lake by 10 spots on the leaderboard, he slipped two spots to 18th in the final FedEx Cup standings. ... Kooch will be playing in the Ryder Cup this week for the second time, having posted a 1-1-2 record in his debut two years ago at Celtic Manor, including a 5-4 defeat to Ian Poulter of England in singles. He also was 1-3-1 last year in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, where Retief Goosen beat him in singles, 1 up. Later last year, Kuchar teamed with Gary Woodland in China to give the U.S. its first title in the World Cup of Golf since David Duval and Tiger Woods won it in 2000. He's shown he can be a strong match player -- he finished third in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship last year, losing to eventual winner Luke Donald in the semifinals, and tied for fifth this year, falling to eventual winner Hunter Mahan in the quarterfinals. ... Kuchar opened with rounds of 67-69 last week in the Tour Championship, and after treading water with an even-par 70 on Saturday, he fell out of contention early in a round of 73 on Sunday. He made bogeys on two of his first four holes of the final round, when he didn't make his only birdie until the 15th hole. After taking only 26 putts on Thursday, he needed 30 each of the last three days.

16. Steve Stricker, United States -- Finishing off his worst performance in the PGA Tour playoffs, Stricker started fast with a 3-under-par 67 in the Tour Championship before stringing together three consecutive 73s to finish 22nd. He slipped seven spots to 20th in the FedEx Cup standings, winding up outside the top 15 for the first time in the six-year history of the event. ... Sticker had two things going for him when Davis Love III made him one of four Captain's Picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team: He is one of the best putters in the world and he has teamed well with Tiger Woods. In the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, they combined for a 2-1 record. Perhaps surprisingly, he is playing in the matches for only the third time and has a 3-3-1 record. He was 3-1 in Wales, including a 2-and-1 victory over European stalwart Lee Westwood of England. Stricker also has an 11-8 record in four Presidents Cups, all U.S. victories, including 4-0 while teaming with Woods in 2009 at Harding Park in San Francisco. He captured the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Australia, the only time it has been held outside the United States. ... After playing bogey-free in the first round at East Lake, Stricker carded at least three bogeys on each of the last three days and a total of 13. He had three bogeys and a double-bogey 6 at No. 7 on Saturday. The putter, usually the best club in his bag, probably was the worst as he averaged 31.5 putts per round, including a total of 67 in the middle rounds.

17. Nick Watney, United States -- One of five players who had a chance to take home the FedEx Cup with a victory in the Tour Championship, Watney instead posted four rounds of even-par 70 or worse and wound up in a tie for 28th. He started the PGA Tour playoffs at 49th in the FedEx Cup standings and finished fourth on the strength of his victory in the opener, the Barclays. The wind seemed to go out of his sails when he was not selected for the Ryder Cup, and he struggled in the last two rounds of the playoffs. ... Watney made a late run for the U.S. Ryder Cup team when he captured the Barclays, but that didn't earn him one of Davis Love III's four Captain's Picks. His only team experience came in the Presidents Cup last year at Royal Melbourne, where he posted a 2-1-1 record, including a 3-and-2 singles victory over K.J. Choi of South Korea. After winning twice on the PGA Tour last season and leading the FedEx Cup points list heading into the PGA Tour playoffs, he seemed to have a good chance to make the Ryder Cup team but slumped early this season and simply got it going too late. But at the age of 32 and with his game, he should be a good bet to make the U.S. team for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland. ... Watney never had a chance last week at East Lake, opening with 75-74 before carding his only decent round with a 70 on Saturday. He struggled in all phases of the game, hitting barely half the fairways and greens while averaging 30.0 putts per round.

18. Lee Westwood, England -- After playing brilliant golf throughout the PGA Tour playoffs, finishing no worse than a tie for 13th in the first three events, Westwood struggled throughout the Tour Championship and finished 30th, or dead last. He had climbed from 51st to eighth in the FedEx Cup standings during the postseason but finished 10th, and he hopes to regain his form this week in the Ryder Cup. ... Based on his Ryder Cup record of 16-11-6 and the fact that he played so well early in the PGA Tour playoffs, captain Jose Maria Olazabal might run Westwood out in all five sessions for the Europeans this week at Medinah. The Englishman is playing in the event for the eighth time, and the Euros have won five of the previous seven, losing in 1999 at Brookline and 2008 at Valhalla. Westwood, who has worn the Union Jack nine other times in international competition, had a 2-1-1 record in 2010 at Celtic Manor but was beaten by Steve Stricker, 2 and 1, and surprisingly is only 2-5 in singles. He quipped that if no one else minds, he would gladly team with red-hot Rory McIlroy this week. Westwood finished fourth in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship earlier this year, losing to McIlroy in the semifinals, 3 and 1, and lost to Ernie Els in the final of the 2004 World Match Play Championship, 2 and 1. ... Westwood could not equal the par of 70 in any of his rounds last week at East Lake and led the field with 22 bogeys. His ball-striking was not bad, but he averaged a horrid 33.0 putts per round, including a total of 69 in the middle rounds.

19. Adam Scott, Australia -- Coming off his first two top-10 finishes since his collapse at the Open Championship, Scott got off to a quick start last week in the Tour Championship but could not break the par of 70 the rest of the way and finished 19th. It was a longshot that he would win the FedEx Cup even with a victory, and he fell four spots to 25th in the final standings, down from 13th last year. ... Scott claimed before the start of the finale at East Lake that his game has never been better even though he was the only player in the top 16 players in the World Golf Rankings without a victory this season heading into the tournament. Of course, the Aussie (ranked fifth) gave away the Open Championship to Ernie Els when he blew a four-stroke lead by making bogeys on the last four holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He'd like to win one of the Grand Slam events soon and not wind up like his idol, Greg Norman, who despite winning two majors is known more for his failures in the Big Four than his successes. Scott had a strong season in the majors, tying for eighth in the Masters, tying for 15th in the U.S. Open, finishing second in the Open Championship and tying for 11th in the PGA Championship, and at the age of 32, there's plenty of time for him to win one. ... Scotty shot 3-under-par 68 in the first round at East Lake, carding four birdies in a span of eight holes through No. 15. That gave him five birdies for the day, but he could manage only seven the rest of the way.

20. Rickie Fowler, United States -- Rickie was at his best last week in his first Tour Championship only when he shot 2-under-par 68 in the second round, and he finished in a tie for 23rd. He slipped one spot to 28th in the final FedEx Cup standings, but it was a big season for the 23-year-old as he claimed his first PGA Tour victory and showed there should be more to come. ... Fowler was one of the favorites to land a spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup team, but he will be watching instead because he simply didn't play well enough after claiming his first PGA Tour victory in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship, to warrant being one of Davis Love III's four Captain's Picks. However, with his game and moxie, he figures to make several U.S. teams in the future. Rickie made an impression when playing on his first Ryder Cup team two years ago in Wales, posting a 0-1-2 record and pulling out a halve in singles against Eduardo Molinari of Italy by winning the last four holes with birdies. He proved his match-play mettle as an amateur, posting a 7-1 record while helping the U.S. win the Walker Cup in 2007 and 2009. ... Fowler rang up three consecutive birdies through No. 13 in the second round at East Lake, but that was his best stretch of the week. He still had a chance for a high finish before closing with a 76, which included five bogeys and two double bogeys, both coming in the last six holes. It was a colorful scorecard, also including three birdies.

Others receiving consideration: Bill Haas, United States; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa; Johnson Wagner, United States; Kyle Stanley, United States; Robert Garrigus, United States; Jim Furyk, United States; Kevin Na, United States; Carl Pettersson, Sweden; Ben Curtis, United States; John Huh, United States; Marc Leishman, Australia; Bo Van Pelt, United States; Scott Piercy, United States; John Senden, Australia; Ryan Moore, United States.
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