As talented as the U.S. Ryder Cup team might be, it would not have seemed complete to its members and fans without Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Captain Jim Furyk took care of that Tuesday when he named those two icons, along with current hot golfer Bryson DeChambeau to the squad that will travel to Paris later this month.
Woods and Mickelson were considered locks to be among Furyk’s captain's picks for their influence on the American Ryder Cup process — both were part of the PGA of America’s task force that overhauled the program — as well as on golf itself. But Furyk made it clear that their spots on the team are not lifetime achievement awards. Both earned their way on with their play this year and both were cited for the experience that could help the United States win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.
For Mickelson,48, this will be a 12th consecutive Ryder Cup appearance, starting in 1995.
"The one thing that has been missing is for our team to go over to Europe and win,” he said during a news conference outside Philadelphia, site of this week’s FedEx Cup tournament. “I’m very excited about the team this year, I’m very excited about being part of this team. We have some incredible players, great leadership and a really special opportunity.”
Woods, 42, will be playing in his eighth Ryder Cup but his first since 2012. He said making the team was one of his goals as he returned this season after back surgery. During the 2016 matches in Minnesota, he was a vice captain who dispensed strategy as well as sandwiches and water bottles to the golfers. “To have the honor to be able to play again is beyond special,” he said.
DeChambeau, 24, made no secret that he dearly wanted 2018 to be his Ryder Cup debut and he was disappointed when he failed to secure one of the eight automatic spots by missing the cut at the PGA Championship last month. He set out to play his way into Furyk’s group of four captain’s choices and has won the first two FedEx Cup playoff events, the Northern Trust in Paramus, New Jersey, last week and the Dell Technologies Championship outside Boston on Monday.
When he was asked how he felt when Furyk told him about the pick, DeChambeau said, “There are some moments in life that are too good to be true.”
Furyk has one more spot to fill and will announce the final team member Monday. Tony Finau has helped his cause by finishing second and tied for fourth in the two FedEx Cup tournaments so far. One potential choice apparently out of the mix is Zach Johnson, who was named Tuesday as one of three new vice-captains, along with David Duval and Matt Kuchar. Woods had been serving as one of Furyk’s assistants but the captain said he wants Woods to be able to concentrate fully on playing.
The captain’s picks join a roster that includes an accomplished group that qualified through the points system: U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka, Masters champion Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. Europe’s captain, Thomas Bjorn, will announce his picks Wednesday morning.