DeChambeau, Schauffele among possible captain’s picks for U.S. Ryder Cup team

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DeChambeau, Schauffele among possible captain’s picks for U.S. Ryder Cup team

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DeChambeau, Schauffele among possible captain’s picks for U.S. Ryder Cup team

ST. LOUIS – Eight players, 12 combined major championship victories, but just one goal – bringing home the Ryder Cup.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk unveiled the automatic qualifiers for his team Monday morning at Bellerive, a group that includes newly crowned PGA champion Brooks Koepka, who topped the points list for the biennial battle in Paris next month.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Masters champion Patrick Reed, along with Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Players Championship winner Webb Simpson round out the powerhouse American lineup.

Furyk said he was nervous about Koepka when he sat out the early part of the season with a wrist injury.

“In April I was worried. Now he has won the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship,” Furyk said. “It’s great to have him on the team. He carries himself with a swagger that everyone talks about.”

Not yet on the team – officially, at least – is the man Koekpa edged on Sunday, Tiger Woods. Eight men make the team on points, another four by captain’s choice. Woods finished 11th in points and will have to rely on Furyk’s grace, though it is widely accepted that the 14-time major winner is a certainty to make the squad.

Furyk played coy on Woods earning a pick, but acknowledged that if Woods is in Paris as a player then he would pick a new vice-captain, a role Woods had held for several months.

Furyk will announce three of his picks on Sept. 4, one day after the Dell Technologies Championship. The final pick is revealed on Sept. 10 after the BMW Championship, just two weeks before matches get underway at Le Golf National in Paris.

Speculation was rampant about captain’s picks at Bellerive during the PGA Championship. Other than Woods, Phil Mickelson is assumed to be one of Furyk’s choices, despite not having recorded a top 10 on the PGA Tour since May.

“You need to be able to weave the four guys into the framework of the eight we already have,” Furyk said.

Bryson DeChambeau narrowly missed automatic qualification by one spot. If he earns a pick with Woods and Mickelson, that leaves one slot up for grabs.

Furyk made have offered a hint who that might be when he talked about his relief at seeing Webb Simpson hold on to the last automatic spot.

“I was trying to pick out courses on our Tour that are similar to Le Golf National,” the captain said. “One of those courses was TPC Sawgrass, and Webb was a runaway winner there.”

The man who finished second to Simpson at TPC Sawgrass – as well as T-2 at the British Open last month – is Xander Schauffele. He finished 12th on the points list.

With a strong lineup already confirmed, Furyk joked about who the real leader of the team is.

“I’m proud to be the United States captain, but Patrick Reed has been Captain America on the last two Ryder Cup teams,” he said with a laugh.

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