- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) - Jimmy Walker was running out of time to make the Ryder Cup team for the second time in a row.

Winning the PGA Championship took care of that.

Walker went from No. 29 in the U.S. standings all the way up to No. 4 because of the double points at a major. With only four events remaining, and with a major championship on his side, he is virtually a lock to be at Hazeltine on Sept. 30.

He went 1-1-3 at Gleneagles as a Ryder Cup rookie, beating Lee Westwood in singles.

“I remember when I left … I said, ‘I never want to miss another one again,’” Walker said. “I thought about that all year. I haven’t played as well as I would have liked to, I’m not on the list. I’m not even close.”

Walker said he saw U.S. captain Davis Love III this week and told him there was still time for him to play his way onto the team, or maybe even show Love enough form that he was worth of a pick. That’s no longer necessary.

It also was a big week for Brooks Koepka, who had dropped from No. 3 to No. 9 by missing a World Golf Championship and the British Open with an ankle injury. He walked 18 holes Thursday for the first time since the U.S. Open. The ankle remains tender. But he shot 66-70 on Sunday and tied for fourth, moving up to No. 5.

He is the equivalent of $680,000 ahead of Bubba Watson, who slipped to No. 9, with four tournaments left.

The top eight automatically make the team.

“I won’t need a pick,” Koepka said.

Watson fell out of the top eight, while Matt Kuchar missed the cut and dropped three spots to No. 11. Rickie Fowler is now No. 12.


LEFTY’S OUTLOOK: Phil Mickelson ended his run through the majors in good spirits. He didn’t play how he wanted at the PGA Championship, but he was looking forward to the longest break he has had since he could remember.

He won’t play again until The Barclays on Aug. 25 to start the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Mickelson said he hadn’t had three weeks off in the summer for more than two decades, though that simply was a case of misremembering. He had three week off between the U.S. Open and Scottish Open in 2014, and he took six weeks off in 2009 to tend for his wife when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But that’s not the point. He gets a long break, and he’s excited.

“I’ll take these three weeks off and be fresh and ready heading into the FedEx Cup,” Mickelson said. “I’ll take probably the first week off and then really start to get ready. That’s a good stretch of golf of those four playoff events and the Ryder Cup. I’m looking forward to those five events. This is the first time where I’m excited to play all four FedEx Cup events. Usually I only play three. I’ll be fresh and excited to go out in the Ryder Cup, too.”

All he needs now is a victory. This is one of Mickelson’s best year without having won through the majors. He has been runner-up three times, starting with a short birdie putt he missed at Pebble Beach and most recently his British Open performance that was among the best, just not better than Henrik Stenson.

He hasn’t won since the 2013 British Open, a stretch of 68 tournaments worldwide. But there’s still time with the four FedEx Cup playoff events, and the Safeway Open that he will play in October in California.

“I’m starting to see my game come back,” Mickelson said. “I’m starting to hit the shots again, what I’m visualizing, what I’m seeing and doing it with ease now. I get to the first tee and I just kind of tighten up and start to force the issue and don’t just go out and play. I have to work on that for these coming FedEx Cup events. I’m excited about where my game is.”


MASTERS BOUND: A 74 in the final round of the U.S. Open cost Daniel Summerhays a top-four finish and a spot in the Masters.

On Sunday, he didn’t let the chance slip away.

Summerhays had five birdies over the last seven holes for a 66, giving him third place alone and a tee time at Augusta National next April for the first time.

“I was definitely thinking about that going up the 18th hole,” he said. “That’s a lifetime dream. I knew exactly where I stood. I knew what was going on. It’s so fun to know where you are and the situation and pump a drive down the middle of the fairway on kind of intimidating-looking finishing drive. Then to hit a wood up on the green like that and almost make a putt, that was pretty amazing.”

Summerhays loves the Masters so much that he says he has memorized the theme song.

“I can hear Jim Nantz’s voice in the back of my mind: ‘Hello, friends, welcome to Augusta National.’ It’s been a dream,” he said.

Robert Streb wasn’t as fortunate. Needing to par the final two holes - both par 5s - he made bogey from two bunkers on the 17th and missed a 7-foot birdie on the 18th to finish out of the top four.


AMAZING GRACE: Branden Grace hasn’t won a major. He sure seems to be getting closer.

Grace once more was a contender in the PGA Championship, getting within one of the lead until a three-putt bogey stalled his momentum on the 16th, and he drove into the water on the 18th trying to take an aggressive angle for a shot at eagle.

Even so, he went 66-67 over the final two rounds and tied for fourth, five shots behind.

“I feel I’m progressing pretty nicely,” said Grace, a winner of seven European Tour events and this year’s PGA Tour stop at Hilton Head. “I think I’m getting more confident as the majors go on.

Grace was tied for the lead at Chambers Bay in the U.S. Open last year until hitting his tee shot out-of-bounds on the railroad tracks on the 70th hole. He tied for fourth in the PGA Championship last year. He tied for fifth in the U.S. Open.

“I was a little bit disappointed with the (British) Open this year,” he said of his tie for 72nd. “I thought I played some decent golf, but it wasn’t one of those golf courses that really suited me. I couldn’t get my eye around the place. I came here this week, I thought this is a place I can do well. Played great the first day, was just unlucky.

“When I tee it up now, I feel I can win a major.”

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