NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. – The ballroom at the Philadelphia Marriott West was sprinkled with reporters Tuesday night while Jim Furyk was announcing Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson as his first three U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks.
It was well attended but plenty of open seats were available. Vice captains David Duval, Zach Johnson and Davis Love III found a spot in the back row, taking it all in.
Behind the chairs, to the side of a camera bank, a 20-something guy in jeans and a tee shirt was taking video on his cell phone for an Instagram story.
That would be Jordan Spieth, who is already on the team and showed up for the ceremony, lingering around in the ballroom where he was eventually joined by Justin Thomas.
The team is just about set now, and the edition of Woods and Mickelson adds another element to the matches in Paris. Spieth was asked Wednesday if he thinks if there’s still an intimidation factor playing against Woods.
“I think the home crowd will help,” Spieth said. “If I were a young European player and I was going to play the Ryder Cup in the United States, you’ve got an away game, you’re playing against Tiger and you haven’t really seen a whole lot of him or at least him playing as well as he’s playing right now. … Healthy Tiger, that would be something that would make it more difficult, absolutely. He adds something to it. He certainly moves the needle in every sense of the game. So it’s good to have him in our corner for sure.”
It’s unlikely, however, that Spieth will have Woods as a teammate. (Who wants to break up that Spieth-Patrick Reed pairing?)
But just having Woods and Mickelson in the team room with a chance to get paired up is significant.
“To get an opportunity to play with Tiger or Phil in a Ryder Cup match, it’s stuff you tell your grandkids about some day,” Spieth said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to get that opportunity. I’m not sure if that’s the way it works within the team, but we’re going to figure out who is going to be the best fit for everyone and I think we’re going to be more prepared earlier than we’ve ever been going overseas to a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.”
Spieth also seems more personally prepared than he would have been a month or two ago. He struggled with the putter in missed cuts at the Memorial and U.S. Open, but things are coming around.
He’s 27th in the FedEx Cup standings and looking to stay on the right side of the Tour Championship bubble when he tees off at 11:30 a.m. Thursday with Woods and Rickie Fowler.
“I’m in a more difficult position to win the FedEx Cup than I’ve been in the last five, six years,” Spieth said. “At some point in your career you’ll be stuck in a position that’s more difficult than other years. So embrace the challenge and try and go out and work my way into the top 10 this week.”