How good a team guy is Jim Furyk? Well, truthfully, this probably shouldn’t be his Ryder Cup to captain. At 46, he’s still playing well enough – a runner-up finish at last summer’s U.S. Open in his native Pennsylvania, a record 58 at the Travelers – to make the team, not captain it.
But leading the U.S. team is such an honor that Furyk will adjust his own timetable to accept and serve. Asked three months ago at Sea Island if he would accept the job, Furyk, noting that it was purely hypothetical, answered quickly: “I would accept the job.”
It’s no longer hypothetical. The job is his, offered to Furyk in December and made official Wednesday at PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Furyk will lead the U.S. team into the 2018 Ryder Cup matches that will be played at the Albatros Course at Le Golf National, outside Paris. The U.S. hasn’t won the cup on foreign soil since 1993.
“It’s no secret, it’s been my favorite event my entire career,” Furyk said Wednesday after being introduced by PGA of America president Paul Levy, a member of the six-person committee that appointed Furyk. “In my opinion, the Ryder Cup embodies everything special about golf.
“It was an event that was started years ago to bring teams from two sides of the pond together, it was all about camaraderie, and using golf as the vehicle to join two sides. It has the teamwork, the camaraderie, the competition, the passion, it brings fans together from worldwide. I get chills thinking about all the events that I’ve been able to participate in, and how fortunate I’ve been, and now to sit here as 2018 captain, it’s such an honor.”
Furyk even named his first assistant captain: winning 2016 captain Davis Love III.
Barring Love III taking on the captain’s role a third time – something not done on the U.S. side since Sam Snead captained a third team in 1969 – and given the new guidelines set down by the U.S. Ryder Cup task force established after the U.S. lost for the sixth time in seven Ryder Cups in 2014 (a captain needs to have served previously as an assistant), there were four realistic candidates for 2018: Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods and Furyk.
Mickelson has played on 11 teams and wants to play on a 12th; Stricker is busy as captain of this fall’s U.S. Presidents Cup team, and would seem a good fit for Whistling Straits in his home state of Wisconsin in 2020; and Woods said in the Bahamas in December that though he wants to one day captain a team, this time would be too soon.
That leaves Furyk, a man with lots of competitive fire and plenty of Ryder Cup experience. No captain before him has played in as many Ryder Cups as Furyk has. He wishes that he had a better record – he is 10-20-4 overall as a player, and teams he played on went 2-7. But it says something about him that the Ryder Cup remains his favorite event.