Ryder Cup doubts bubble up at Tour Championship

As Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel continue their merry escapades at the Tour Championship, one can’t help wondering whether Tom Watson is banging his head against some distant wall.

Is it too late to take a Mulligan on a couple of those Ryder Cup picks, Captain Tom?

Relying upon gut even more than data, Watson placed a huge value on experience when he spent his three captain’s picks on Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson.

Omitted were a couple up-and-comers Kirk and Horschel.

While they have continued to play well — both shared the first round lead at the Tour Championship, and Horschel edged just a bit ahead on Friday — Watson’s picks, the ones who made it to Atlanta, are non-factors.

Let’s take a quick inventory. Bradley did not make it to East Lake. Mahan and Simpson are tied for 25th in the 29-player field, both at 6 over after two rounds.

Mahan has broken par just once in his last 10 rounds, since winning at The Barclays. By contrast, Horschel is working on a streak of 10 rounds in the 60s.

Simpson has one PGA Tour victory since winning the 2012 U.S. Open. Kirk has two this season, including the Deutsche Bank just two weeks ago.

Granted, golf is a volatile craft, and past performance does not guarantee future results. But in two weeks in Scotland, there will be a public referendum on Watson’s gut.

Trick-shot artist: Of the multiple cool shots played by Rory McIlroy on his way to the day's low round of 65, none was cooler than the pants par. His tee shot on the par-4 14th ricocheted off a tree limb and into the shorts pocket of a male gallery member as he ducked for cover. They both shared a good laugh and McIlroy, much to the relief of the fan, did not have to play it where it lied. The fan gratefully assisted with the free drop. "I wasn't going in there. I know how sweaty my pockets are, I'm not going in anyone else's," McIlroy said.

Six the hard way: Bubba Watson's Tour Championship ambitions got all wet Friday. Drowning his tee ball on the par 3 No. 6, then three-putting from 14 feet was an invitation to a triple-bogey 6. No. 6, playing 209 yards with a green flanked on three sides by East Lake, was harsh Friday, the hardest hole on the course (playing to a stroke average of 3.48). It yielded only one birdie (McIlroy) compared to nine bogeys or higher. Splashing two in water, John Senden claimed the high score on the hole, a quad bogey 7.

Etc.: Jim Furyk hates the word "playoffs" as employed by the FedEx Cup. Starting with 125 players is just too many, he said. "I'd say 62 max should make the playoffs," he offered. But, whatever the format, the 44-year-old Furyk thrives. He just won't go away, with two top-10 finishes in "the playoffs" and, oh, look, he's tied for fifth (4 under) here at halftime of "the super bowl." … If anyone has reason to be tired here at season's end, it's Kirk. The Milton resident is playing in his 28th tournament this year. By contrast, Adam Scott is playing his 17th. "That's kind of what I'm battling this week — mental fatigue," Kirk said. Battling it successfully, by the looks of the second-round leaderboard.