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Friday, August 1, 2014

The Storylines Rise to the Top at Bridgestone

New storylines came from everywhere on Thursday. It started with the news that Dustin Johnson was taking a leave of absence from the Tour, to "seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced." (That quote was taken from this ESPN.com article. You can find more info in this PGATOUR.com post.) While everybody wonders what's up and wishes him well, this development leaves a hole in the Ryder Cup team because Dustin specifically said he won't be playing.

Dustin Johnson

For Captain Tom Watson, it's a two-edged sword. He'll definitely miss having Dustin on the team in Scotland but it does open up another spot since #10 is now an automatic pick. (At this point, that's Patrick Reed.) Let's face it -- the 3 Captain's choices are almost certainly no-brainers at this point. With Phil currently at #11 and Keegan at #16, you can be reasonably sure they're on the team.

And of course, there's Tiger. With a minimum of 6 rounds (and quite possibly 8) under his belt in the next two weeks, Tom Watson will have 14 rounds over the last 2 months to help him gauge where the Big Cat will be in late September.

If he keeps up the way he did Thursday, he'll probably make the team. Despite 2 bogeys -- one of them a sloppy 3-putt on the first hole -- and a double, he still finished out at -2, in the Top10 and just 4 off the lead. His irons, short game, and (for the most part) putting looked much sharper than they did at the Open. The issue is still the driver but Thursday he scrambled like the Tiger we're used to seeing.

And given that he scored better than McIlroy (-1), Furyk (-1), Bubba (-1), Adam (-1), Spieth (+1), McDowell (+1), Stenson (+1), and Poulter (+3), and given that he absolutely obliterated playing partner Martin Kaymer (+7), it's hard to believe that Tiger won't figure something out in time for the Ryder Cup. Here he is in his own words (the video is from PGATOUR.com):



But Dustin and Tiger weren't the only players to step up. Marc Leishman took the lead at -6; Ryan Moore, Charl Schwartzel, and Justin Rose followed at -5; and players like Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler were in the next group at -3.

We'll know more after today's round finishes but it certainly looks as if this WGC is going to live up to the hype.

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