The biggest remaining Ryder Cup questions for the U.S. and Europe

It would be hard to imagine Sergio Garcia not making Team Europe, but he can take out all the mystery with a few good weeks of play. John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

AKRON, Ohio -- The next two weeks will go a long way toward shaping the U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams.

Not only do the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship count on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, but both events offer an abundance of prize money and world ranking points -- the latter a criteria for the European side.

Here is a rundown of how both teams are coming together for the matches that will be played Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National outside of Paris.

United States

Automatic qualifiers: Eight are decided following the PGA Championship on Aug. 12.
How points are earned: Players get 1 point for every $1,000 earned this week; next week it's 1.5 points for every $1,000 earned, with the winner getting 2 points for every $1,000 earned.
At-large picks: Captain Jim Furyk has four; the first three will be announced Sept 4., the day after the conclusion of the Dell Technologies Championship. The final pick will come following the BMW Championship.

The PGA of America announced on Monday that Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed have clinched spots on the team. Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth hold down the next three spots and are all but certain of qualifying. Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson occupy the seventh and eighth automatic positions, with Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson in the ninth and 10th positions.

Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau, Zach Johnson and Tiger Woods are among a big pool of players that Furyk will consider to round out his team, with most expecting Mickelson and Woods to get picked.

That means DeChambeau, Kuchar, Schauffele, Kisner, Finau, Johnson and perhaps someone who gets hot over the next few weeks would be in the mix for two spots.

Things will get interesting if Simpson falls out of the top eight. He won the Players Championship, has been top 20 in all three majors including a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open and is ranked 20th in the world.

But in Ryder Cup play, Simpson -- who partnered with Watson in 2012 and 2014 -- is a pedestrian 2-3-1, has not won a singles match and was benched at Gleneagles in his last appearance. Watson, for that matter, is 3-8 in the Ryder Cup and has never won a foursomes or singles match in the competition.

If Simpson makes the team, you can obviously put him with Watson in a best-ball match and hope for the best in singles. But if he fails to make it, Furyk has plenty of options with veterans Kuchar and Zach Johnson along with Schauffele, Finau and Kisner.


Automatic qualifiers: Eight are decided on Sept. 2 following the Made in Denmark European Tour event. Four players come from the European points list, the other four from a world list.
How points are earned: For the European points list, players earn points based on Euros earned at European Tour events, with more points awarded since May. For the world list, world ranking points are compiled for any worldwide event except those going up against a European Tour Rolex Series tournament, with more points awarded since May.
At-large picks: Captain Thomas Bjorn has four and will make them on Sept. 10.

Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood lead the way in the European points list, which is comprised of results from European Tour events only. Those players are then excluded from the world list, with the top four at this time Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Paul Casey.

It is a formidable group of players, with only Hatton ranked outside of the top 15 in the world -- and he is 24th.

Among those not qualified are the likes of Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Knox, Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Thorbjorn Olesen.

Although Garcia is having a poor year -- he's missed the cut in all three major championships -- it is hard to imagine him being bypassed. Same with Poulter -- who won the Houston Open earlier this year -- and Stenson.

That would leave just one spot for the likes of Oleson, Cabrera Bello, Knox and Fitzpatrick, and it's worth noting that Cabrera Bello -- who along with Fitzpatrick played for the Europeans at Hazeltine two years ago -- is the highest ranked among them.

How strong are the two teams?

If you go by the rough outline put forth, all but two players would be ranked among the world's top 30 -- with Woods the lowest at No. 50.