It’s pure speculation, of course. But now that a thrilling Open Championship is in the books, what does it tell us about the big events coming in the rest of the year?
Start with the PGA Championship, which will be set up like a U.S. Open course, something that the PGA site—the Lower Course at Baltusrol—has been numerous times. Given how Americans dominated at Oakmont last month, taking 7 of the top 11 spots and winning (Dustin Johnson, lest you forget), maybe it’s an American’s turn at the PGA, too. And Americans continued their fine major play at Troon, taking 5 of the top 11 spots: Phil Mickelson, 2nd; JB Holmes, 3rd; Steve Stricker, 4th; Johnson and Bill Haas, T9.
How about the Olympics? Coming off his Open victory, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (above, smiling) has to be a gold-medal favorite. But most of the other top players at Royal Troon are not Rio-bound: No Mickelson, Holmes, Stricker, Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton, Andrew Johnston, Johnson, or Haas. In fact, among the top 11 at Troon, only Stenson, Spain’s Sergio Garcia (T5), and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (T9) are in the Olympic field. Going a little further down the leaderboard you find others headed for Rio, including Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (T12), American Patrick Reed (T12), Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (T22), and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (T36). All four American Olympians made the cut in The Open, but other than Reed, none had much of a showing: Bubba Watson (T39) and both Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar (T46). Interestingly, the other Olympic teams of more than one player in which all made the Open Championship cut were Belgium (Thomas Pieters and Nicolas Colsaerts), Great Britain (Danny Willett and Justin Rose), and Spain (Garcia and Rafa Cabrera-Bello). However, the Olympics will only feature an individual competition, no team matches.
But speaking of teams, last but not least is the Ryder Cup. The potential U.S. team (based on points earned through early July) acquitted itself quite nicely, with Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Watson, Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Fowler, Reed, Holmes, Zach Johnson, and, of course, Mickelson, playing all four days. For that matter, so did co-captains Stricker and Jim Furyk.
The likely European side didn’t fare too badly, either, led by Stenson plus McIlroy, Willett, Garcia, Cabrera-Bello, Kjeldsen, Rose, Lee Westwood, Hatton, Martin Kaymer, and a few other possible teammates going the distance at Troon.
All of which proves… not very much. But that won’t stop us from debating as the next few months showcase what is likely to be some very exciting international competition.