PGA Championship Notebook

Curtis Earns a Spot On Ryder Cup Team

Padraig Harrington rallies from three shots down with a final-round 66 to win the PGA Championship, his second consecutive major title.
By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 11, 2008

BLOOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich., Aug. 10 -- Ben Curtis could take some consolation from not winning the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Sunday after leading the tournament through 54 holes. His tie for second place gave him enough points to play on the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the first time in his career.

Curtis started the tournament in 20th place in the point standings, knowing that after the PGA, the top eight on the list would earn automatic berths on captain Paul Azinger's American team. Curtis's performance, finishing two shots behind champion Padraig Harrington, nevertheless moved him all the way up to seventh place.

He also knocked Steve Stricker, who started the week at No. 8, back down to No. 9. Boo Weekley, who was seventh going into the PGA, got the last automatic spot, replacing Stricker as the eighth man in points.

"I guess if you're going to finish second and they tell you that you qualify for the Ryder Cup, I think that you'll take it," Curtis said. "It's almost a victory in itself. It was a goal I set. I feel like I can help this team and I know a lot of guys on the European side. I think it's going to be good fun. . . . This week I didn't even think about it, to be honest with you, especially once I got into the hunt. It was just winning this golf tournament."

Phil Mickelson led the U.S. points list, and will be joined by (in order of finish) Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Curtis and Weekley. Kim, Curtis and Weekley will be making their first appearance in the competition.

Azinger still has four captain's choice selections to fill out his team, and he will announce those picks on Sept. 2. The European team still has three weeks of tournaments to earn points, and captain Nick Faldo will have 10 automatic qualifiers, and two wild-card choices, also to be announced on Sept. 2.

Nothing Major for Lefty

Mickelson got into contention with three birdies on his first four holes on his final round Sunday, but never made another birdie all day and finished tied for seventh place, the second straight season the No. 2 player in the world has failed to win a major. That extends his winless streak to 10 since he botched the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot with a double bogey at the 72nd hole.

After his final-round 70, and 4-over 284 total, he tried to put a happy face on his failure to add to his total of three previous major championships -- two Masters and a PGA.

"We have a long wait for the next major, the Masters," he said, "but in the meantime we have a pretty exciting five-week stretch here with four FedExCup events and the Ryder Cup. We still have a lot to play for in the next month and a half, so we're trying to keep our games sharp."

Mickelson's short game left much to be desired this week, but he insisted he was happy with his final round.

"I was able to take advantage of some of the birdie holes, but once we got to No. 6, it was a tough, tough course," he said. "It was a tough final round, and I thought even par was a good round, but not good enough coming from as far back as I was," six shots after 54 holes.

Tough Finish

Halfway leader J.B. Holmes trailed 54-hole leader Curtis by one shot when they started together in the final group Sunday afternoon. But Holmes made a triple bogey on the opening hole when he hit his drive under a pine tree, failed to hit it out on his second shot and had to take an unplayable lie. It got worse from there, with bogeys on his next two holes and a final-round 81--290 that left him tied for 29th place. . . . Despite rain-softened greens, Oakland Hills yielded only nine rounds in the 60s in the fourth round . . . Fairfax native Steve Marino shot 75-76 in his final two rounds and tied for 60th place at 18-over 298.

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