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Tiger aiming for a Ryder wild card

 

After just missing out on getting the victory he needed in the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on Sunday, Tiger Woods has failed in his bid to automatically qualify as a player for the 2018 US Ryder Cup team to take on Europe in France next month.

Instead, it was three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson who captured the final four available places when the qualifying process ended at Bellerive on Sunday.

They joined Brooks Koepka, Sunday's PGA winner and the reigning US Open champion, Justin Thomas, the World No 2 and last year's PGA winner, current Green Jacket holder Patrick Reed and World No 1 Dustin Johnson who all had already built up enough points to qualify for Jim Furyk's Ryder Cup team when they teed off at Bellerive.

Woods, now 42, shot a six-birdie 64 on Sunday to finish two shots behind Koepke in second place and he is hoping that on the strength of this performance and his strong finish at last month's British Open, Furyk will consider giving him one his four captain's wildcard pics.

This would convert him from one of the team's already-named vice captains to one of its 12 players.

Eight months ago after spinal fusion surgery, Woods was unsure if he would ever play again, but right now, after his most recent heroics, he is looking ready to once again take on the best.

"I'm just very pleased with what I've done so far," he said on Sunday, "And now to be part of the Ryder Cup conversation, going from where I've come from to now in the last year, has been pretty cool. I do want to be on the team as a player, but I'm going to be there either way."

Furyk suggested last week that he was open to the idea of Woods serving as both a player and a vice-captain, but that he was still looking at such a possibility.

"Our captain will have some decisions to make after the first (FedEx Cup) playoff events," Woods said. "We will sit down and give him our input and what we think, who should be on the team. And hopefully, my name will be part of that process."

Other contenders for the USA team are veteran Phil Mickelson and young gun Bryson De Chambeau, but in missing the cut last week, they may have spoiled their chances.

If Woods does make the team, Justin Thomas for one will be delighted.

"It would be great if he's on the team as a player," Thomas said. "I really look forward to it. He's going to be on the team one way or the other, and whichever role he is in, I'm looking forward to it and I know he is too.

"He moves the needle and he creates quite a buzz out there. On Sunday you could hear it, for sure."

The Qualification period for the Thomas Bjorn's European Team is only due to end in three weeks time, but in the meantime, Italy's reigning Open Champion Francesco Molinari and England's Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood were able to strengthen the hold they already have on a place in the European team with solid performances at Bellerive.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, Spain's Jon Rahm, Swede Alex Noren and England's Ian Poulter are meanwhile the other four top contenders based on the world rankings with Poulter just in front of Casey, who missed the cut in the PGA Championship.

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Neville Leck

Written by neville@golfweather.com.