Dubai: Jim Furyk has plumped for experience with his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup clash with Europe at Le National in Paris later this month.
Tiger Woods’ and Phil Mickelson’s poor form in Europe at the biennial continental tournament were put to one side as United States captain Furyk put his faith in the old guard alongside in-form 24-year-old Bryson DeChambeau, the winner of the past two events on the PGA Tour.
Woods has played on only one victorious Ryder Cup team (1999) in seven appearances, a shocking number for one of the game’s all-time greats, but his form off late after coming back from an operation to fuse his spine has been nothing short of remarkable and there would have been an outcry of Colin Kaepernick proportions had he not been included.
“It’s been great to have his (Woods) help and to get a little feel of one of the best minds in the history of the game on your side helping you out,” he said.
“We’re all excited to see him healthy again, to see his game playing so well.”
Woods, who missed the past two Ryder Cups through injury and will now relinquish his role as a vice-captain, said: “I haven’t been part of the team playing-wise for six years. This year to have the honour of being able to play again is beyond special.”
While Woods’ Ryder Cup record on the road is questionable, perhaps even more surprising is that Mickelson, who has won the Ryder Cup team three times, has ended up empty-handed on all five of his trips to Europe.
And this may be the weakest link on a team that already features Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson.
Mickelson, 48, will make his record 12th appearance in the Ryder Cup. He was a rookie in 1995 and has lost eight of the 11 meetings he’s been involved in.
“This is most likely my last chance to go over to Europe and be a part of a winning US team,” said Mickelson, whose overall Ryder Cup record is 18-20-7. “I set out this year on 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.
“Although I fell just shy of making on points, it feels great to be a part of the team and serve the team in any way I can.”
Despite his poor travelling record, Mickelson has the backing of his captain, “I’m excited to have him on the team,” said Furyk. “He’s a veteran leader; he knows the inner-workings of our team room. He will significantly help a lot of folks on our team.”
Mickelson won for only the first time in five years at the WGC-Mexico Championships in March and has had only one top-10 finish since. not the greatest form if the US are needing a vital point come the singles on Day 3.
DeChambeau may be a rookie but he is the game’s hottest player right now. He won at the Northern Trust and followed it up immediately at the Dell Technologies Championship last weekend, managing to card a 63 in each of the tournaments.
“I wanted to be a part of this experience so badly,” DeChambeau said. “I worked twice as hard and it showed.”
The US will defend the Cup at the September 28-30 event against Europe at Le National in Paris, the second time the tournament will be held on continental Europe instead of its traditional home of the UK and Ireland.
“We’re heading over into foreign soil. It’s going to be an interesting crowd,” Furyk said.
“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.”
The final spot on the US team will be decided by Furyk after the BMW Championship, which concludes on September 9, with Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner and Tony Finau in contention for the last berth.