HOYLAKE, England — The final major of the year has come and gone, and yet plenty of questions regarding the makeup of both the United States and European Ryder Cup teams still remain.
Nearly two months out from the event, the Open Championship served as a proper stage for plenty of players to make strong cases for their candidacy. For others, it introduced more doubt about whether they should be on their respective teams come September.
Here are the players who bolstered their case for Rome this week and those who did not:
Brian Harman: Stock up
Harman should keep his passport handy because he’s likely going to Rome. Points and world rankings aside, there’s no way Harman should be left off the team after taking home the Claret Jug and jumping to No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The Georgia native was 20th in the Ryder Cup rankings heading into the week, and now he’ll surely make a sizable leap and become a fixture on the team in September, when Marco Simone Golf Club should fit his eye and his game well.
“I enjoy match play,” Harman said Sunday while refusing to handicap his chances of making the team. “I’ve done well in all the match-play tournaments I’ve played in. Had a really good junior record and amateur record in match play. I enjoy the head-to-head competition.”
Max Homa: Stock up
One could argue that what Homa did at the Presidents Cup last year (four wins in four matches) was enough to all but guarantee him a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. But coming into the week at Hoylake, Homa had struggled to excel in majors, most notably missing the cut at the U.S. Open.
Homa showed up this week at Royal Liverpool Golf Club without much of a spotlight, freed up and ready to play his game. It showed. He shot an opening-round 68 but followed it up with a disappointing 73. Then, on Saturday, he was paired with Rory McIlroy and battled the McIlroy-favored atmosphere to grind out a 70. On Sunday, Homa surged all the way up to a tie for 10th, giving him his best-ever finish at a major and more momentum toward a Ryder Cup spot.
Tony Finau: Stock down
Here are Finau’s past seven starts: T-23, T-72, missed cut, T-32, T-45, missed cut, missed cut. Even though Finau won the Mexico Open in April, his stretch of poor results also includes three majors in which his best finish was T-32 at the U.S. Open — not exactly ideal for someone who was likely a surefire pick when the year began.
Justin Thomas: Stock unclear
All the results, statistics and logic say that Thomas should not be on this year’s Ryder Cup team. He has missed four cuts in his past six starts and has shot two of the worst rounds of his career in the past two major championships. And yet, no one seems to be overly worried about him. Captain Zach Johnson, who roomed with Thomas this week at The Open, did not hint to whether Thomas’ performance would leave him off the team, calling him a “stalwart in the event” and saying he’s not worried about him in the long run because it’s only a matter of time before he finds it.
Thomas has to find it soon. He’s sitting outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup playoff picture (75th) and will have to play the 3M Open and the Wyndham Championship to try to get into next year’s designated events. Should Thomas not make the playoffs, it’s tough to see how Johnson would be justified in picking him.
Collin Morikawa: Stock down
Morikawa hasn’t been the same since January, when Jon Rahm tracked him down from 9 shots behind on the final day of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. A top-10 at the Masters felt like a positive sign that he was trending in the right direction, but since then, Morikawa has missed five cuts, including this week at The Open.
The 26-year-old withdrew from the Memorial because of a back injury, and though he said he was healthy enough to play in the U.S. Open, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll need some extended time off that could jeopardize his selection for Rome.
Spieth and Fowler didn’t play their best golf at Hoylake, but they didn’t play their worst golf either. They both finished at even par after they were paired together Sunday. Their performances this season, in Fowler’s case, and their prior experience at team events, in Spieth’s case, should be good enough to get them both on the team.
Cameron Young: Stock up
Despite a disappointing finish in the final group on Sunday, Young showed he’s back in form after consecutive top-10 finishes (sixth at the John Deere Classic, tied for eighth at The Open). Young had struggled over the past three months, he missed the cut at the PGA Championship and his highest finish came in a tie for 32nd at the U.S. Open. But Hoylake showed he has turned his game around, and the next month or so might be enough time for him to prove he deserves a spot on the U.S. team.
Sepp Straka: Stock up
Had it not been for fellow Georgia Bulldog Harman, the Austrian player might have won this year’s Open Championship and taken home his first major title as well as a guaranteed spot on the European team. Regardless, Straka is likely in after his recent stretch that now includes a runner-up finish at a major. Four top-10 finishes this season, a top-five in The Open and a win at the John Deere Classic should be more than enough for him to either qualify for one of the top six spots or become one of Luke Donald‘s six captain’s picks.
Robert MacIntyre: Stock up
As of this weekend, MacIntyre was third in the European Ryder Cup standings, which meant he would automatically qualify for the team if the season were over Sunday. Despite a T-71 finish at The Open, thanks to his Scottish Open second-place finish, MacIntyre has put himself in great position to make the team.
Alex Noren: Stock up
The 67th-ranked player in the world wouldn’t normally be mentioned among candidates for a Ryder Cup spot. But after a strong week at The Open in which he finished at even par, Noren could be considered for one of the final spots on the team given his experience. Noren went 2-1-0 in his Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National in France and beat Bryson DeChambeau in his singles match, which closed out the Americans. If Donald decides to go the more experienced route for his captain’s pick instead of youth and potential, such as Ludvig Aberg, expect to see Noren get some significant consideration.
Adrian Meronk: Stock up
Meronk’s performance at major championships this year has left a lot to be desired. Coming into The Open, Meronk had missed the cut at all three previous majors. But he does have one win on the European tour this season, as well as a win at the Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf Club, which alone could vault him into a guaranteed spot on the team.
The 30-year-old Polish player helped himself this week by putting together a strong performance at Royal Liverpool, finishing even par and tied for 23rd — by far his best career finish at a major championship. Not only will that likely increase his points total in the Ryder Cup standings (currently fifth), it will also make it easier for Donald to pick him should he fall out of the automatic spots.
The Hojgaard twins had very different outings at Hoylake as Rasmus tumbled to 7 over and missed the cut, while Nicolai finished at even par and tied for 23rd place. The role reversal complicates things for Donald a bit, given that if either of them were going to get picked, it appeared Rasmus was the favorite entering the week. While Rasmus was sixth in the Ryder Cup standings, Nicolai was 38th. It will be interesting to see how Donald approaches the two of them and whether he decides to bring both of them on (unlikely), one of them (most likely) or neither.
It was not the best week for Paul or Perez. Paul entered the week in fourth place in the Ryder Cup standings but proceeded to miss the cut, while Perez — who was seventh in the standings — made the cut but finished tied for 41st. At the moment, it still seems likely they’re both in, but they’ll have to keep performing well on the European tour over the next few weeks to lock up their spots. Like Noren, both will hope that their age and experience will be considered assets when it comes to filling out the team, rather than a reason to be bypassed for the likes of young, up-and-coming players such as Aberg, the Hojgaard twins or even Adrien Dumont de Chassart.