NEWTOWN SQUARE, PENNSYLVANIA | It’s a simple question:
Would Xander Schauffele winning the BMW Championship this weekend at Aronimink Golf Club be enough to earn him the final spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team?
Or has Tony Finau already done enough to feel comfortable captain Jim Furyk will call his name Monday at 9 a.m. when he announces the final member of the U.S. team?
Depends on who you ask.
Here’s what Furyk said about the 12th man earlier this week:
“I still want someone that’s had a good body of work, someone that’s playing well right now but definitely that person has to fit. We have a very good idea now with 11 players of pairings, and that player is going to fit nicely into a spot to make things work.”
That’s suitably vague.
So what’s Schauffele thinking, sitting on a two-stroke lead midway through the BMW Championship?
“I’m sort of in a position where I feel like a win is the only way I’d even be in consideration,” he said. “I mean Tony obviously is the guy right now. He just shot 64 as well. He’s not making it easy on anyone else trying to get on that team. So hats off to him for playing really well.”
What’s Finau have to say for himself?
“It’s two great players playing well at the same time. There can’t be a bad choice,” he said.
But is there an obvious choice?
There’s a reason why Finau is the consensus choice, at least at the moment. He’s had a better season.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers and while they don’t tell the full story, they lay out the plotline pretty well.
Finau: In 26 starts entering the BMW Championship, he’s finished second three times, has three top-10 finishes in majors and has 10 top-10s. In the FedEx Cup playoffs, he finished second at the Northern Trust and T4 at the Dell Technologies Championship. He’s currently T11 at the BMW Championship, five behind Schauffele.
Schauffele: In 25 starts, he has two second-place finishes, one third-place finish and five top-10s. He finished T2 at the Open Championship but doesn’t have a top-30 finish since then. There’s also the issue of him ranking 183rd on Tour in final-round scoring average this season.
“My Sunday scoring average is pretty bad to be completely honest here, it’s very poor and my Saturday isn’t very good as well,” Schauffele said. “A lot to prove not just to everyone else but to myself this weekend. I’ve been failing a lot so it would be nice to turn the switch and kind of clutch up.”
Finau’s approach is simple but not necessarily easy.
“The possibilities are cool, the potential of what could happen, but nothing good comes from thinking too far ahead,” Finau said. “I’ve got a couple rounds in front of me, 36 holes to try and win this tournament, and winning takes care of everything.”