Johnson has a win and two runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour this season, and entering this week he was nearly a mathematical certainty to earn a spot at Gleneagles in September. Johnson was fifth in the American standings with 5,133 points, more than 1,600 points ahead of the ninth and final automatic qualifying spot.
Players earn one point per $1,000 earned this week in Akron, and two points per $1,000 earned next week at the season’s final major.
After Johnson announced his indefinite leave from professional golf to “seek professional help for personal challenges,” the PGA of America issued a tweet confirming that Johnson will miss both the Ryder Cup and next week’s PGA Championship:
The 12 American representatives at Gleneagles will include the top nine players on the points list after next week’s event at Valhalla, along with three picks from U.S. captain Tom Watson. With Johnson’s absence from the squad confirmed, the qualifying spot he likely would have occupied will now go to the player who finishes 10th on the final points list.
Entering this week’s event at Firestone, that spot belonged to Patrick Reed, who has won twice this year and currently sits 149 points behind ninth-place Zach Johnson. Reed has never played in the Ryder Cup, and opened his week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a 3-under 67 to sit three shots behind leader Marc Leishman.
Other players in contention for Johnson’s spot on the Ryder Cup team include Phil Mickelson, Brendon Todd, Chris Kirk and Ryan Moore. Those players currently hold the 11-14 slots, respectively, on the U.S. points list. Moore shot a 5-under 65 Thursday at Firestone and is in a tie for second place after the first round.
-- Will Gray, GolfChannel.com