With Ryder Cup qualifiers set, Jim Furyk sets sights on captains picks

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With Ryder Cup qualifiers set, Jim Furyk sets sights on captains picks

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With Ryder Cup qualifiers set, Jim Furyk sets sights on captains picks

ST. LOUIS – Finally, the core of the U.S. Ryder Cup team is set.

The eighth and final automatic qualifying spot was still in limbo going into the PGA Championship, and Webb Simpson held on to secure his trip to Paris. Four captains picks remain, and at least one seems locked in stone after what we saw Sunday at Bellerive.

Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler round out the points picks. Now the intrigue ramps up. Jim Furyk will announce his first three captains picks after the Dell Technologies Championship on Sept. 3, with the fourth and final after the BMW Championship on Sept. 9.

Tiger Woods already was slotted to be at Le Golf National as a vice captain, but it seems certain he’ll need to pack the clubs after a final-round 64 to finish solo second behind winner Brooks Koepka.

“I’m just very pleased at what I’ve done so far,” Woods said. “And now to be part of the Ryder Cup conversation, going from where I’ve come from to now in the last year, it’s been pretty cool.”

Another veteran in question, Phil Mickelson, didn’t make the team on points for the first time in his career. But he and Furyk sat down over the week at Bellerive to talk about his game. Off the course he’s the ultimate team room guy, and it’s hard to believe he’ll be left off the squad.

Mickelson was among a group of hopefuls such as Bryson DeChambeau to miss the cut at the PGA Championship, but there are other things to consider.

“I’m sure they’re disappointed, and the idea is trying to round out the team with the four picks that give us the best opportunity,” Furyk said. “That being said, (Bellerive) isn’t the same as Le Golf National. I don’t know if you could find two more polar opposite golf courses. Not saying it’s a non-factor, but I’m also saying it’s definitely not the end of the world.”

DeChambeau was the odd man out at ninth in points. But he’s an intriguing competitor and two-time winner over the past two seasons. Reigning Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau each made the cut at the PGA Championship but slipped outside the top 30.

Those are the three main youngsters for Furyk to consider, along with hard-nosed competitor Kevin Kisner. He also has Ryder Cup veterans in Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar, neither of whom is having a great year by their standards. If they’re left off the roster, one will likely fill in as a vice captain. With Mickelson and Woods two likely picks, it would make sense for Furyk to go younger with the others.

However it shakes out, those picks will prove crucial for an American team looking to retain the Cup and win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years. Gwk

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