ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI | The good news for U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk is he has an eight-player team set for the September matches.
What remains is the challenge of adding four more players over the next month to complete the U.S. roster at Le Golf National.
In a Monday morning press conference – intended to focus on the eight automatic qualifiers – Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson – the attention shifted immediately to who might be added to the squad.
Starting with Tiger Woods, who moved from 20th to 11th in Ryder Cup points with his runner-up finish at Bellerive.
“His game – I think the word he used is ‘trending.’ His game is trending. So it’s great to see him playing well,” Furyk said.
And that’s really all Furyk wanted to say about Woods, who would likely relinquish his vice captain role if he is added to the playing roster, which seems an absolute certainty.
Furyk artfully dodged specifically talking about players he’s considering for the four spots, though he said it’s a fluid group of eight at the moment.
“I just threw a number out there at eight, but it might be more,” Furyk said. “But more important than that number, a guy could go out there and win New Jersey, and he’s on the radar. So there’s not really a set number or a set pool. It’s just trying to identify the four players we think help us the best.”
Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Zach Johnson are generally considered the players under consideration as captain’s picks. Furyk will add three players to the roster after the Dell Technologies Championship, which concludes Sept. 3. He will make his final pick one week later after the BMW Championship.
As it stands, Thomas is the only Ryder Cup rookie on the team. Furyk was non-committal on whether he feels it’s necessary to add another first-timer to gain experience.
“We are looking ahead, and we have a long-term plan, but we’re trying to identify the four players that fit with these eight. So when I look at my captain’s picks, I’ll be looking at guys that have had a great body of work this year, guys that are playing well and maybe hot players at the time. I’m looking at pairings. I’m looking at who fits in well with these eight players,” Furyk said.
“I’m also looking at the golf course. Le Golf National is a wonderful golf course, in my opinion, but it suits a certain style of player, and I’ll be looking at that. So it’s my job, I think, to round this team out in the best possible way, and these four players that we’ll add, I think, will give us the best opportunity to be successful, whether that’s adding more veterans, whether that’s adding some rookies to the team or some youth, I think both can be very valuable.”