Thomas Bjørn and Jim Furyk took part in Ryder Cup Captains’ Challenge at Le Golf National – and it wasn’t long afterwards that Furyk was questioned about Tiger Woods.
Thomas Bjørn and Jim Furyk today went head-to-head at The 2018 Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National as the European and United States captains led two teams of junior golfers in a special Captains’ Challenge.
The pair were joined by eight members of the French Golf Federation’s Elite Junior Squad – four boys and four girls – for the fun contest over L’Albatros course, which next year will host The Ryder Cup for the first time, becoming only the second venue in continental Europe to do so.
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The Captains’ Challenge was compered by Paul Armitage, Le Golf National’s General Manager, with European Captain Bjørn and United States Captain Furyk steering their respective teams of two mixed foursomes pairings through the five-hole challenge, which was played over the first hole and Le Golf National’s famous finishing stretch, the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th holes.
Fittingly, the match was halved, with the challenge providing all eight juniors with an experience to remember on the course which will be the backdrop for 24 of the world’s leading players in 12 months’ time.
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Team Bjørn, represented by Mathilde Claisse and Dimitri Mary, Lilas Pinthier and Thomas Boulange, and Team Furyk, comprising Candice Mahe and Pierre Pineau, Evangeline Prevot and Clement Charmasson, were then presented with flags signed by both captains as a memento from the day.
The Captains’ Challenge was watched by more than 750 local schoolchildren who were then able to hear Bjørn and Furyk pass on their expertise when the two captains hosted a clinic on the practice range. This group included pupils from the nearby Ecole Robert Desnos, in Guyancourt, who cycled to Le Golf National after earlier in the day receiving a visit from the two captains, who spent time in their classroom learning about the children’s work as part of the Mon Carnet de Golf educational programme.
Bjørn said: “Today brought you back to your own childhood, to see all these kids excited about golf. It was a good reminder of where you came from. It’s been a brilliant day in the sense of seeing the excitement about the Ryder Cup in France.
“We’re in a country where golf is not the biggest sport and The Ryder Cup doesn’t have a history, so to bring it here and see the schools getting involved, and to watch these fantastic young players in the Challenge gives you a few goose bumps. You can feel from them that they are so excited about The Ryder Cup.
“I had some good chats on the golf course with Jim and also with the kids, trying to talk to them about playing the game. They are extremely talented players and it looks like they have a great future ahead of them in the game. One comment to a kid like that can make them because we’ve all had it at some stage in our careers, that one guy who says something that stays with you for the rest of your life. Hopefully we passed on one or two things today that will stick with them and make them into great players.”
Furyk said: “We had a great visit this morning to a local school, and it was then great to see some of France’s elite junior players play a foursomes match. It was nice to see the golf course a bit and enjoy our day with the kids.
“The Captains’ Challenge had some amazing golf. The kids were nervous to start with but they played phenomenal. I enjoyed not only how well they played but how well they interacted. They helped each other reading putts, and played with genuine smiles on their faces.
“I think it was a great experience for them and I can’t imagine putting myself in their shoes, at the age of 16, 18. Trying to go back and hit those shots, I would have been a nervous wreck.
“The clinic was great too. We had a lot of fun interacting with the kids. You want kids them to think of this game as enjoyable, to relate and associate golf as fun. It was good to hear them out there cheering, yelling, and having a great time. It’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
Furyk talks Tiger Woods videos
Following the flurry of videos posted on Tiger Woods’ social media in the past week, it was inveitable that Furyk would be questioned about the 14-time-major’s champion’s future – and the Ryder Cup Captain said he was impressed with his swing.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Furyk said that although the swing looks good, he still thinks it’s incredibly unlikely Woods would feature in the 2018 Ryder Cup team – but he was quick to add that we also shouldn’t under-estimate Woods.
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The swing looked good,” Furyk told Sky Sports. “It looked a lot like Tiger. It didn’t have the speed that we’re used to quite yet, but he’s recovering and that’s what he probably needs to build up.
“It’s nice to see him swinging a golf club. I know he wants to get back playing golf and I know he would love to play golf competitively and I think that would be great for golf.”
“He’s not 100% right now, but it’s Tiger Woods. Whenever we have doubted him in the past he has proved us wrong, so don’t rule it past him.”