Jim Furyk names Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau as first three wildcard picks for USA Ryder Cup Team
Jim Furyk announced during a press conference on Tuesday that his first three wildcard picks for the USA Ryder Cup team are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.
“I’m going to cut to the chase,” Furyk started. “The three members of the team are Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
“I think we talked about all year, we were looking for a number of different things, but players that had a good body of work that had played good this season, players that were in good form and we’re headed over to Europe.
“We’re heading over into foreign soil. It’s going to be an interesting crowd. They are boisterous, I have a lot of respect for them and we are looking for players that we thought would handle that situation well and would thrive, love the challenge ahead of them, and naming these three players, that’s what we’ve done.”
Having named Woods, one of his Vice Captain’s, as a player, Furyk also added the trio of new VC’s: David Duval, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar, making it clear neither ZJ or Kuchar are in the running for a place on his team. As for Tiger, he will now be thought of as a player rather than a Vice Captain so that he can focus on playing.
“I’ve been asked about it all year, and what Tiger and I have decided is he will play in this Ryder Cup, and we will name another vice captain.
“He has been instrumental in helping not only the captains before me, but me, as well, as far as strategy, as far as planning, as far as pairings, and I’m going to continue to use that knowledge and that strategy.
“I want to allow him to be able to practice, to prepare, and work with his partner or partners in that preparation. So when he needs to step out, that gives him a little bit of freedom and it gives me another set of eyes over there.
“So collectively, his role won’t change much but he will be considered a player instead of a vice captain. So with that, I’m going to name three vice captains today, in David Duval, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar.”
Below, Furyk explains his thoughts for choosing each player, and what DeChambeau, Woods and Mickelson said about making the team.
Bryson DeChambeau: Rookie
Furyk thanked DeChambeau, who finished ninth on the Ryder Cup points list and claimed both the Northern Trust and Dell Technologies Championships the past two weeks, for making him such an easy wildcard pick.
“Obviously a tough spot,” Furyk said of DeChambeau’s finish on the points list. “Finished ninth in points and it’s tough to get really close and not quite get over the hump, and probably he put a ton of pressure on himself, we all do, as players. But to see the way he worked through that, came out, hit the ground running, won his first two Playoff events at both The Northern Trust and Dell, just incredible.
“And not only won, but won definitively on the back nine. Took control and seized control of those tournaments and took big leads and was able to finish out tournaments. So I have to say, I guess, thanks, you made it really easy on the captain.”
During the press conference, Bryson talked about knowing he had to play well to guarantee his place on the team, and what happened when he found out from Furyk that he had made it.
“ I knew I had to play really well. Look, any time you’re trying to make your first Ryder Cup, it’s not easy and I know that to be a fact, given I experienced what I needed to do to make the team.
“And even after I won at Ridgewood, I still thought, man, I’ve got to play well at Boston just to show them that, yeah, I’m a contender and I’m going to keep doing the right things to be a valuable asset to the team.
“You know, and again, this is about the team, and I wanted to be a part of this experience, so badly, that I worked twice as hard, and it showed and it paid off.
“ I just got out of the shower and Davis actually texted me and said, “Give the captain a call,” Bryson added about the moment he found out his fate.
“So I gave him a call. He invited me to the team, and that was a tremendous honour. It was a moment — there are some moments in life that are just too good to be true, and that was one of them, but it was true, and it was an honour that I’ll never forget. That will be locked away in my memory for a long time.”
Phil Mickelson: 12th Ryder Cup Appearance
Phil Mickelson is set to make his 12th Ryder Cup appearance, having been on every US team since 1995. When talking about him, Furyk mentioned growing up with Mickelson, and why he is excited to add him – as an experienced played – to the team.
“We grew up together. I knew how special Phil was when we were kids and playing in college, but to be able to play at that level, that elite level for as long as he had, to be that consistent for 23, 25 years, is an impressive feat and one that will be very difficult to be equalled.
“Excited to have him on the team, and really, just from a veteran leader, someone that really provides — knows the inner workings of our team room, and provides, I don’t know, a spark. I think he’s a lot of fun in the team room and has a knowledge of kind of the other players and will help — significantly help a lot of folks on our team, so it’s great to have him be a part of”
Phil Mickelson responded about striving to make the team, and wanting to finally complete his goal of winning the Ryder Cup in Europe – in what will likely be his last trip for team USA across the pond.
“Certainly, this is most likely my last chance to go over to Europe and to be a part of a winning U.S. Team in Europe. We haven’t done that in 25 years.
“I set out this year, on really, a strong commitment and journey to get on the team. I got off to a great start this year. It’s been a really good year, and although I fell just shy of making it on points, it feels great to be a part of this team and serve this team in any way I can.
“the one thing that has been missing is for our team to go over to Europe and win. I’m very excited about the team this year. I’m excited to be a part of this team. We have some incredible players, great leadership, and a really special opportunity to do something that we haven’t done in a long time.
“It’s going to be a great challenge because we know how strong the European side is and how well they play at home, but it’s a wonderful chance, an opportunity for us to do something I haven’t done or been a part of in my career, and would very much like to.”
Tiger Woods: 8th Ryder Cup Appearance
A year ago it wouldn’t have even been a consideration, but after an impressive return to competitve golf, Tiger Woods finished 11th on the Ryder Cup points list – and is now set to make his 8th Ryder Cup experience.
For Furyk, who has opted to have Tiger focusing on the task at hand rather than continuing in his Vice Captain duties during the week, it’s been an exciting year to see Woods playing so well.
“I think we’re all excited. Tiger and I spent time as partners. We spent a lot of time as vice captains talking strategy, talking pairings, and I can attest to the amount of texts that Davis Love has received. I think I’m maybe not quite as many, but I’m darned close.
“But it’s been great to have his help, and to get like a little feel of, you know, one of the best minds in the history of the game on your side helping you out, it’s been great to have.
“But I have to say, we are all excited to see him healthy and playing the way he has, backed up against the wall, to play so well at The Open Championship, to play so well at the PGA; Phil is correct, we have all kind of becomes fans, as well, and it’s a feather in our cap to have him playing in our side.”
Tiger called his call-up to the team, which will be his first time in six years, an honour that was ‘beyond special’.
“l, when I first made my first team at Valderrama, it was quite an honour and more than anything, it was a great learning experience to see the passion that our late, great team leaders and — and they made me understand how important The Ryder Cup is, and from that moment on, I always wanted to be a part of each and every team.
“I haven’t been part of the team playing-wise, for six years, and served as a vice captain a couple years ago, and that was absolutely incredible to be part of the team, to be part of these young guys and just trying to help, help them with whatever it is — whether it’s spikes or sandwiches, whatever they needed, I was there.
“And this year, to have the honour of be able to again, is beyond special.
“To have an opportunity to go to Europe and to have an opportunity to win a Ryder Cup, and we haven’t done it in 25 years over there, and to be part of this group of guys to have that opportunity to go there, it’s exciting, it really is.”
So what is Furyk looking for in his final Wildcard pick?
“I think we have a lot of good options on the team and we still have options left that I’m excited about for next Monday… I still want someone that’s had a good body of work, someone that’s playing well right now but definitely that person has to fit. We have a very good idea now with 11 players of pairings, and that player is going to fit nicely into a spot to make things work.
“So it’s something we’ll go to work on, not that we haven’t already talked about it, but something we’ll go to work on even deeper and dive deeper into things this week and make sure we’re very comfortable with that selection on Monday.
Who is still in the running for a Wildcard pick?
Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson have been named Vice Captain’s alongside David Duval, meaning they won’t be up for the final pick on Monday.
➤ Ryder Cup Experience: Rookie
➤ Ryder Cup Points Race: 15th
Why he’ll get picked: An in-form player, Finau has five top 10s in his last eight starts including 2nd place to DeChambeau at the Northern Trust and T4 to him at the Dell Technologies. He also finished inside the top 10 in three of the year’s four majors (which includes the Masters on a post-dislocated ankle) and was T17 at WGC Dell Match Play.
Why he won’t get picked: Finished 15th in the US rankings and Furyk might look to players in front of him such as Schauffele, Kisner or Kuchar. His last team appearance was Junior Ryder Cup (’04 and ’06).
➤ Ryder Cup Experience: Rookie
➤ Ryder Cup Points Race: 12th
Why he’ll get picked: Schauffele won the Tour Championship and was voted the 2017 Rookie of the year thanks to two victories last season. He’s also proved he can perform in the big moments, shown by T2 at Players and The Open, and T6 in US Open this year. Is a rookie but like Finau was T17 at WGC Dell Match Play this year.
Why he won’t get picked: Has been really inconsistent apart from in the majors and Players, missing the cut at The Northern Trust – one of four MC in his last nine starts – and finishing T49 at the Dell Technologies.
➤ Ryder Cup Experience: Rookie
➤ Ryder Cup Points Race: 14th
Why he’ll get picked: Kisner rose to the occasion in his first Team USA outing at the Presidents Cup, winning 3 points and not losing a single match (2-0-2). He was the runner up at the WGC Dell match-play earlier this year, proving he is good at that style of play, and finished 2nd at The Open and T12 at the PGA Championship.
Why he won’t get picked: Another player that’s been quite streaky this season. He’s had three top 10s and seven MCs this year, the latest being at the RBC Heritage before a T73 at Northern Trust – and it might mean he gets overlooked for someone on better form. He did finish T24 at the Dell Technologies, but he still is likely to be edged out in favour of someone like Finau.
➤ Ryder Cup Experience: 2 Appearances (’12, ’16)
➤ Ryder Cup Points Race: 12th
Why he’ll get picked: Snedeker has three top 10s in his last six starts, including a win at the Wyndham Championship in his last outing. He also combined well with Koepka in 2016 in two matches and won his singles to claim 3 points from 3 outings. Finished T31 at Dell Technologies.
Why he won’t get picked: Injury forced him out of The Northern Trust and that may cause doubt for Furyk. Snedeker has also been quite inconsistent this year, carding four top 10s but missed seven cuts in 2018.