Bob Estes had a disappointing wait in the Medinah clubhouse today watching the final players complete their PGA Championship rounds. He did not want to root for anyone to falter, but his only chance to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team on points was to finish at least in a tie for fifth.
His round of 69 and total of 6-under-par 282 fell one shot short, leaving him tied for sixth with Scotland's Colin Montgomerie. Now he must wait again for a call from American team captain Ben Crenshaw, who can select him as one of his two captain's choices. But it's a call that likely will not come.
"I don't know if I would have any chance at being any type of selection," Estes said. "I don't have the experience of a Fred Couples or Tom Lehman, but my game is getting better and I like tight courses with rough around the greens" such as at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where the matches will be played Sept. 24-26.
Estes will look back on two bogeys in his final three holes as sealing his Cup fate if he is not selected. If he had finished tied for fifth, he would have bumped Jeff Maggert out of the top 10 in the Cup point standings accumulated over the last two seasons.
The top 10 didn't change in this final tournament to earn points. The team will include PGA champion Tiger Woods, the points leader and No. 1 player in the world after his victory today. Other members, in order of points, are David Duval, Payne Stewart, Davis Love III, Mark O'Meara, Hal Sutton, Justin Leonard, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Maggert.
Estes moved into 11th, with Lehman No. 12. Crenshaw will announce his two picks Monday morning. Lehman is considered a lock, and most speculation points to Couples as the other choice because of his experience in contending for major championships and his five previous Ryder Cup appearances.
In the European standings, PGA runner-up Sergio Garcia moved from 12th to seventh place and, with one tournament remaining, is a lock to make the team.
Off the Beem
Rich Beem, who charmed the galleries and was the feel-good story of the year on the PGA Tour with his victory at the Kemper Open, has been struggling. He had missed his last three cuts until he shot 72-73 in the first two rounds of the PGA to stay for the weekend.
Beem, an El Paso native who figuratively came from nowhere to win the Kemper, reverted to recent form the last two days, with 78 on Saturday and 76 today. Still, he was heartened when he saved par out of the rough at the 17th and birdied the 18th to complete the tournament in 11-over 299 and a tie for 70th place ($6,550).
"A par-birdie finish may seem like a small thing," said Beem, a tour rookie, "but it's a start and it makes me very happy."
While he's earned over $500,000 this year, life off the course has not been quite so rewarding. He recently broke up with Amy Orick, the girlfriend who accompanied him to Avenel in June and walked every step of the way over the weekend in his improbable victory.
Tiger, Weir Together
Canadian Mike Weir, tied for the lead after 54 holes, had a nightmare round of 80 playing with Tiger Woods in the final round, missing a number of short par and birdie putts. He insisted the huge crowds following the group were not the problem. "There was nothing with the gallery or Tiger," he said. "It was just me." . . .
Joey Sindelar walked off the course today after completing 12 holes because he was having back problems. He had 43 on his front side, including a double and a triple bogey. . . .
With an 80, former University of Maryland golf coach Fred Funk tied for the worst round of the day and finished at 12-over 300.
1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team
The 10 members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team who won automatic berths based on points (two others will be picked by team captain Ben Crenshaw):
Davis Love III