Furyk gives update on U.S. Ryder Cup team
August 08, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Jim Furyk talks Ryder Cup strength before PGA Championship
ST. LOUIS – Captain Jim Furyk met with the media at the PGA Championship at Bellerive on Wednesday to talk about how his team is shaping up for the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France, Sept. 28-30.
Meanwhile, European Captain Thomas Bjorn, who had been given an exemption to play in the PGA, withdrew with a back injury after earlier giving his own press conference.
“I think you've got a battle of two giants,” Furyk said of the two teams. “I mean, you look at the World Rankings right now, you look at the top 20 players, they're dominated by Europeans and Americans. So, you've got two very, very solid teams, and we have our hands full.”
This week’s PGA marks the last chance for American players to make the top eight on points; the FedExCup Playoffs will help determine the final four. Furyk will make three captain’s selections following the completion of the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston, Sept. 3, and a final pick after the completion of the BMW Championship, a week later.
Dustin Johnson, who leads the FedExCup after three victories this season, leads the U.S. points list, followed by U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka. Justin Thomas, coming off his rousing victory at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, and Masters champion Patrick Reed round out the top four, who have clinched their spots on the team.
Bubba Watson, another three-time winner this year, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and THE PLAYERS Championship winner Webb Simpson round out the top eight. Their spots are not safe. Adding to the intrigue, No. 11 Xander Schauffele and No. 13 Tony Finau have been put with Furyk for the first two rounds of the PGA at Bellerive, something the captain said he had nothing to do with, but that will obviously help him keep an eye on things.
“They drew the short end of the stick,” Furyk said with a smile.
Phil Mickelson, who has never missed a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup in his long career, sits at 10th on the list and would seem to be in good shape for a captain’s pick.
Tiger Woods, who has played his way from nowhere at the start of the season all the way to 20th in Ryder Cup points, will already be going to France no matter what. The question is whether he will go in the capacity of Vice-Captain—Furyk already designated him and Steve Stricker as such—or a player. Unless Woods were to win this week at Bellerive, Furyk said, he would have to recuse himself, meaning literally take himself out of the room, when it comes time for Furyk to discuss with his team whether or not to give Woods a captain’s pick.
Then there’s the case of Bryson DeChambeau, who won his second TOUR title at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide earlier this season and whose disposition might be a fit.
“He is very fiery, very competitive, and that's the type of person we want on the teams,” Woods said in his press conference Tuesday. “We want someone who is fiery, who will bleed red, white and blue. We want those types of players on the team.”
Meanwhile, the European team is looking better than ever with the emergence of new stars like Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood, and Francesco Molinari’s red-hot summer.
“Obviously, to see Francesco winning The Open was a fantastic moment for Francesco, but when you sit on the sidelines as captain, you want to see guys do well in the big championships,” Bjorn said. “I thought it was a good week for a lot of guys. But we've known for the better part of the 12 months that we were going to have a very strong team, the way a lot of these guys have been playing.”
Bjorn will have an addition three weeks for his players to make the team on points; his top eight will be set after the European Tour’s Made in Denmark tournament ends Sept. 2. He will make his four captain’s picks Sept. 5.