A big-name departure from the game and a big-time showing in last weekend’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has former University High golfer Patrick Reed on the cusp of earning a berth on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Reed was in 10th place on the U.S. team standings going into the Bridgestone. Only the top nine players on points after this week’s PGA Championship, plus three picks by team captain Tom Watson, will compete for the U.S.
PGA Tour veteran Dustin Johnson’s name was removed from the Ryder Cup points list last week after he said he was taking a voluntary leave of absence from golf for the rest of this season. At least one report said Johnson has tested positive twice for cocaine and once for marijuana use in the past five years, resulting in a suspension — which the PGA Tour denied.
Johnson’s departure moved Reed to No. 9 on the Ryder Cup points list. His play at the Bridgestone helped even more than that.
Reed shot a final round 5-under-par 65 on Sunday at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, to tie for fourth at 9-under, six back of winner Rory McIlroy. It was Reed’s first top-10 finish since he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March.
Reed, who turns 24 on Tuesday, moved up to seventh on the Ryder Cup points list with 3,609.393.
The top five players on the U.S. team points list are already locked in: Masters champion and former Zurich Classic of New Orleans winner Bubba Watson (6,892.638 points), Jim Furyk (5,972.69)4, Jimmy Walker (5,585.405), Rickie Fowler (5,573.253) and Matt Kuchar (5,114.665).
Jordan Spieth, whom Reed beat in a playoff for his first victory in the Wyndham Championship last season, is sixth with 4,835.827 points. Defending PGA champion and former Zurich winner Jason Dufner is right behind Reed in eighth with 3,559.720 points, followed by Zach Johnson (3,532.894) and Phil Mickelson (3,350.338).
According to the PGA of America, which helps run the Ryder Cup, players down to 15th or 16th on the U.S. points list are still within range of making the team because so many points are at stake at the PGA Championship. Players receive two points for every $1,000 in prize money they earn this week; the PGA champion, if an American, could earn a game-changing 3,000 points.
Reed would be the first golfer with Louisiana ties to make the Ryder Cup team since former LSU All-American David Toms in 2006.
With Dustin Johnson’s absence and Tiger Woods again facing back issues, it’s a possibility Tom Watson would use one of his captain’s picks on Reed if he falls outside the top nine. But Reed’s lack of Ryder Cup experience could be a mark against him.
The PGA will be played Thursday through Sunday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Ryder Cup is Sept. 26-28 in Gleneagles, Scotland.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.