If you learn anything from watching The Barclays this week, you should learn that hitting fairways is often more important than hitting it long. Among the Top10 on the leaderboard -- which actually numbers 17 players after Round 1 -- only four are considered long hitters, at least according to Tour driving stats.
Those four (with their ranks in parentheses) are Jhonattan Vegas (T11), JB Holmes (2), Jason Day (16) and Rickie Fowler (26).
Sitting alone at the top is Patrick Reed. He's long enough (at
just under 297 yards he's 45th in the stats) but certainly not among the
For comparison, Ryan Moore's in solo 4th right now. He ranks T164 off the tee, just under 282 yards. And Emiliano Grillo, sharing 2nd with Fowler, is T69 at just under 294. And although Rickie is long, he has hit 9 of 14 fairways each round, and has only one bogey for the week so far.
Clearly the Black has no respect for length if you're not in the short grass. I'll say it again: You should remember how important it is to hit the short grass, especially if you have problems with rough at your course.
Having said that, it's not hard to see why Rickie and Patrick could lock up Ryder Cup spots this week. If Rickie finishes as he is now, GC estimates that he'll finish in the 7th spot, which is obviously inside the Automatic 8. And Patrick already sits in the 8th spot; a win would move him up the list as well.
I don't think Ryan Moore can make the Automatic 8, even with a win. But two wins in three weeks -- you'll remember that he won the John Deere a couple weeks back -- and Captain Love may have to consider him for a pick. I say 'may' because, even though he's scoring well on this long tough course, Ryan isn't putting so well. (He's only T66 in the field this week. YIKES!) But managing his way around like this -- as Patrick did on Friday -- may be enough for Davis. We'll see.
In the meantime, I'm watching Rickie and Patrick very closely. If they keep playing this way, the Ryder Cup dreams of Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson could be in serious trouble. (I think Brooks Koepka is safe in the 5 spot... but it could be close if he doesn't pick it up. He barely made the cut on the number.)