BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - Ben Curtis received a pretty nice consolation prize for his runner-up finish yesterday at the PGA Championship.
The Ohioan was one of eight golfers who finished high enough on a points list to
automatically qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team that will meet the Europeans on Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
Curtis, who was boosted by a recent top-10 finish at the British Open, entered the PGA in 21st place on the points list. But his performance over the weekend at Oakland Hills Country Club put him over the top. He finished No. 7 on the final list.
"If you're going to finish second, I guess qualifying for the Ryder Cup team is a victory in itself," Curtis said last night. "I feel like I can help the team. I think it will be good fun."
The other seven U.S. players who clinched berths, from top down on the points list, are Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard and Boo Weekley.
Curtis, Kim and Weekley will be Ryder Cup rookies.
Tiger Woods finished with the highest point total among Americans, but is unable to compete due to his recovering from knee surgery.
The remainder of the 12-man team will be selected by U.S. captain Paul Azinger, who will announce his four captain's picks on Sept. 2 following the conclusion of the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
The top four candidates, based on updated points standings, would be Steve Stricker, Woody Austin, D.J. Trahan and Hunter Mahan.
Azinger, however, can select any four players he desires.
The European team will be announced Aug. 31 following play in the European Tour's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland. PGA champion Padraig Harrington leads the Euro points list by a comfortable margin.
- Dave Hackenberg