There will be an extra perk for the 12 golfers who make the U.S. Ryder Cup team — the eight who will qualify on points after The Barclays on Sunday night and the four who will be chosen by captain Davis Love III.
They will get to spend a week with someone they haven’t seen in a while: Tiger Woods.
Woods, who won the first U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in 2002 and been in both subsequent tournaments on the course, has missed the entire season while recovering from back surgery. But he will be an assistant captain for the American team that will face Europe beginning Sept. 30 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
“I think it’s going to be great,” said Jim Furyk, who also is an assistant captain and has become a candidate to play on the squad. “He has been really excited, really interested, really involved with Davis. He has brought a lot of ideas to the table. I think right now it’s kind of all hands on deck.
“We have four assistants right now with Steve Stricker, myself, Tiger and Tom Lehman all trying to help in the decision making,” Furyk said. “Tiger is really excited about being there. Probably the best player who ever played — we definitely want him on our side.”
Woodland has length advantage
If anyone fits the profile of the type of player who can win The Barclays this week at Bethpage Black, it’s Gary Woodland, who ranks seventh on the PGATour in driving distance with a 307.2-yard average. Woodland made the cut at the 2009 U.S. Open here and loves the length of the course and the conditions he encountered Monday in an 18-hole practice round.
“It was tough today because it was so breezy, but the golf course is in perfect shape,” Woodland said. “It does set up for length, which is a huge advantage out here. It’s nice to change it up and get to a golf course where I can hit a lot of drivers.”
Although he finished 12 over par to tie for 47th in the 2009 Open, Woodland said that experience and the way he’s playing lately give him a lot of confidence going into Thursday’s opening round.
“I love it,” Woodland said of the Black Course. “It’s one of my favorite golf courses to play. The [sight] lines just visually I think it’s a great design. The greens aren’t that tricky, they’re pretty much right in front of you. It’s all about controlling your golf ball, and that’s something I’m pretty good at.
“It’s nice to come back to a place where you’re comfortable and a place that you like. Any time I get to use length to my advantage on a golf course, I’m excited about it.”
Rain softens course, but good weather ahead
Overnight rain on Sunday left the greens soft and accepting for Monday’s practice round, but there currently is no rain in the forecast for the week ahead. Describing the playing conditions he encountered, two-time major champion Zach Johnson said, “There’s no roll. There was mud on every shot. With the forecast, it should dry out, and we should get a little bit of roll. But today, not only were long irons stopping on the greens, but the drivers were stopping in the fairways where they landed. Maybe they released two yards.”
South African Tyrone Van Aswegen said, “The course was tough today, playing with wind 20 to 30 miles per hour and the rough is pretty thick. I think it’s been thicker for U.S. Opens, but it’s still thick. The course is in great shape. The fairways are pure and the greens are pure. It should be a good challenge.”