Jordan Spieth believes the performance at the Tour Championship in East Lake will decide who gets the final slot in the US team for the Ryder Cup 2016. While Spieth is already a part of Team USA, as they look to wrest the title back from Europe, three players – Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger – are fighting it out for the 12th and final spot.
Davis Love III, the US team captain, will make that big decision on Sunday, once the drama at the Tour Championships unfolds. Spieth feels whoever performs best in the PGA Tour tournament, which starts on Thursday, has the best chance to suit up for the US team in Hazeltine against Europe next week.
"I think it's challenging, I think it's tough," Spieth told reporters when asked about the situation that the three players find themselves in, fighting it out for one place in the prestigious Ryder Cup. "And the reason I say that is because I've spent a lot of time with them."
Spieth knows the pressure that comes with playing in a Ryder Cup, but the likes of Thomas, Watson and Berger have also had to deal with the pressure of having to do enough to convince Love to pick them in the team.
"Justin's admitted that he's put so much pressure on the Ryder Cup this year, he thinks it negatively affected some of his performances where, if it just wasn't on his mind at all, he'd have maybe felt a little less stress or pressure trying to grab points at the end of the round instead of just playing his game," the world number four added.
"I think Berger's the same way."
The obvious pick, going purely by the world rankings and pedigree, is Watson, considering the left-hander is currently ranked No.7 and comes with previous Ryder Cup experience, albeit an unflattering one.
"Bubba, what is he, seven in the world? That's tough right there," Spieth said. "There's 24 players in the Ryder Cup that go down to, I don't know what the lowest world ranking is. I don't know if anybody's ever been passed up at that spot. But they all know that, if they come in here and if they can somehow block that out and focus on this tournament, it will help all of them. We want who's hot.
"In my opinion, we want whoever's playing the best to be the last pick. Bubba didn't seem upset about anything. He didn't seem like he was entitled to any position or any advantage over anybody else. I think he really feels like he needs to do his job this week."
Spieth was a part of the US team that went down to Europe at Gleneagles in Scotland two years ago, and that is a feeling the American is determined not to repeat. Getting his mojo going in the Tour Championship, a tournament which will put him in a position to win the Fedex Cup as well, will be the key, before he aims to shine in golf's greatest team tournament and help the US team crack the Europe code.
"That's a trophy that I've watched the other side of and it hurt," Spieth recalled. "It was tough at the closing ceremony.
"We had a good time that evening, but when we boarded the plane back home, it was an empty feeling. We don't want that again. We remember that, those of us that were there, and the guys that were there in Medinah in 2012.
We want that celebration. We want that champagne falling off the balcony. I'm pretty confident about how we're going to go about our business. I think we've got a fantastic team this year, one of the best teams I can remember looking back at, and I love being a part of that."