Watson, Johnson earn first Ryder Cup berths

August 15, 2010

HAVEN, Wis. - Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson each earned a consolation prize after their respective disappointing finishes in the 92nd PGA Championship Sunday at Whistling Straits.

Both qualified for their first Ryder Cup.

But in Watson's case, at least, you couldn't really say he was distinctly disappointed in the outcome in which he lost to Germany's Martin Kaymer in a three-hole playoff after both finished 72 holes in 11-under 277.

"I made the Ryder Cup, so that's all I care about," he said.

Watson finished third and Johnson sixth in the final U.S. Ryder Cup points list to clinch two of the eight automatic spots on captain Corey Pavin's team that will take on Europe Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales. They join Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively, as rookies on the squad that will be considered heavy underdogs.

Pavin will round out his squad with four captains picks on Sept. 7 in New York. European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie's team will be set Aug. 29 when both his nine automatic berths and his three wild-card picks are announced.

Masters champion Phil Mickelson finished first overall on the U.S. points list and qualified for his eighth Ryder Cup. He sports a 10-14-6 record. Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker claimed the remaining automatic bids. Furyk is 8-13-3 in six previous Ryder Cup starts, while Mahan and Stricker debuted on the 2008 team that triumphed at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.

Anthony Kim, another member of the '08 team, and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, each missed the cut and were the odd men out when Watson finished second and Johnson T-5 at Whistling Straits. World No. 1 Tiger Woods finished T-28 in the PGA and slipped to 12th in the standings as Zach Johnson passed him with a T-3 performance. Woods missed the 2008 Ryder Cup while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.

"I think I got a chance of maybe helping out in singles," Woods joked when asked about his participation in the biennial competition, which now is only possible by being one of Pavin's four wild-card picks. "I feel like my game is a lot better ... it's starting to head in the right direction now. I'm looking forward to it; hopefully Corey will pick me on the team."

"We're going to have a lot of new blood on this team. We have a lot of good young players in America that are going to add a lot of value to the team," Mickelson said.

Watson and Johnson bring power, while Kuchar, who held the 36-hole lead at Whistling Straits, is second to Ernie Els in scoring on the PGA Tour.

Asked what he thought he could bring to the U.S. squad, Watson, 31, demurred. "What I bring to Corey's team? Not much. (I'm) just a selfâ¿¿taught guy from Bagdad, Florida, named Bubba," he said. "I just want to play on the team and I'm going to do everything possible to help the team play, play good, whatever. And if he asks me to play every day, I'm going to play every day. If he tells me to sit out, I'm going to go cheer on the team and clap for everybody, be at every group. I'm going to do everything possible to spur the team on and play well.

"You know, what I bring to the table is I want to be there and I have a passion to play there. I might play terrible when I get there, but the one thing is I'm never going to pout for being there, I'm never going to put my head down, because you are representing your country."

-- Dave Shedloski