An eight-time winner at Firestone, Tiger enters this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 215th place on the FedExCup rankings. Only the top 125 qualify for the playoffs - beginning on the August 21 - and Tiger has just 45 points. If he were to win at Firestone for a ninth time, a venue where he holds the course record, 550 points would come his way, propelling him inside the top 25 and into the qualifying spots.
FedExCup aside, the world No.10 looks like he needs a pick from US Ryder Cup Capitan Tom Watson to make the match at Gleneagles. A strong finish this week would go a long way to show Watson he can compete with the best after his back injury.
Another man in danger of watching the Ryder Cup in the States is Keegan Bradley. The 2011 PGA champion lies in 16th spot in the US Ryder Cup standings, with the top nine making the trip to Scotland this September. If the Bostonian can muster a top five finish, it would be a timely boost to his chances.
In last year’s championship, Bradley finished runner-up to Tiger Woods alongside Swede Henrik Stenson, and a year previous he finished top of the pile. Without a victory since that win, this year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational may be the perfect place for the 28-year-old to get back in the winner’s circle.
The Scot has had a magnificent year, rising from 66th on the world rankings in January to 31st this month. As a result, he’s been on the fringes of Ryder Cup qualification for almost the entire season. Gallacher is 12th on the European Points List, with the top four earning a spot.
Five players not already qualified from European List secure a place in the European side via the World Point List. Luke Donald is the closest man to Gallacher in those standings, with Gallacher only eight points behind – only Graeme McDowell is closer. A big performance at Firestone would do wonders for his Ryder Cup charge.
The Englishman looks like he’ll need a pick to tee it up at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. The world No.28 has three Ryder Cups wins under his belt in a total of three appearances. However, this year both Stephen Gallacher and Graeme McDowell are ahead of him in the race to oust those in qualifying spots.
He’s missed the cut in his last two events – the Scottish Open and the Open Championship and both had strong fields like this weeks WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. And if he’s to impress European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGineley and force his way into his squad, Poulter will need at least a top ten finish. He’s only managed one so far this year on the PGA Tour. It’s a big week for the 38-year-old.
Since winning the Maybank Malaysian Open, Westwood has only made two cuts in his last seven outings. Things need to change fast for the world No.34. If he can turn around his slump in form, it will put him back into contention for a captains pick for the Ryder Cup. If not, he looks certain to be overlooked.
Also, if Westwood can piece together a good performance at Firestone he will head into the year’s final major – the PGA Championship – with a timely confidence boost. The Englishman has yet to triumph in a major. Challenging this weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will give him that boost.