Captains kick off Ryder Cup week in lighthearted fashion

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Captains kick off Ryder Cup week in lighthearted fashion

2018 Ryder Cup

Captains kick off Ryder Cup week in lighthearted fashion

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Ryder Cup week commenced with two European practice rounds, a joint captain’s news conference and a well-earned evening of rest for the playoff-weary American team.

Landing around 12:45 p.m. local time to a police escort, Captain Jim Furyk’s U.S. squad arrived in France from Atlanta after their charter departed about an hour late. Furyk left his team of 12 and five vice captains at the official hotel for an afternoon press conference alongside European captain Thomas Bjorn.

With the Ryder Cup displayed in front of the two captains, Furyk looked only mildly weary following the overnight flight. He said the buzz of a particular Sunday victory had everyone in good spirits.

“We were waiting yesterday, we had a major victory for the team and we had a whole group of guys waiting in the team room, and then a giant roar when Steve Stricker walked in the room after his victory last night,” Furyk said of his vice captain. “It was fun to see Strick play well on the Champions Tour in South Dakota and obviously Tiger played so well at the Tour Championship, and to grab ahold of the golf tournament early and fend everyone off, I think was a good buzz in the team room.”

As for Furyk’s most pressing concern – the lackluster Tour Championship play of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson – the captain was ready with a response.

“You know, the way I look at it is in my career, I’ve played very well in practice and had rough tournaments,” Furyk said. “I’ve had bad practice in some events and went on to win those same events. So last week is kind of behind us.”

The captains received several questions about gauging match pairings by practice-round play, with Bjorn sounding less interested than Furyk given the European team’s track record at Le Golf National.

“In your mind, you’re very set on where you want to go with it, and something uncharacteristic has to happen if you’re going to change it, but you’re pretty much set in your mind where it’s all going to go,” Bjorn said.

Furyk brings a team with minimal experience at the venue – six have played here but none well or more than a few rounds (Justin Thomas tied for eighth in his French Open debut this year) – and expects three solid days of team practice.

“They have played the French Open here,” Furyk said. “They have had a lot of success here with the past two champions and a number of top-10s. That’s one of the things we have to overcome in that preparation, and learning this golf course first is most important. The compatibility and how that will work and foursomes and four-balls will also help, as well.”

Both captains were coy when asked if they intend to get all 12 of their team members into opening-day action, about the only question related to Friday’s session.

“You’ll have to wait and see, won’t you,” Bjorn said with a smile.

As for Furyk?

“I think you’ll have to wait and see. I thought Thomas was very clear.”

With both teams hunkered down at their hotels and set to practice Tuesday, the 2018 Ryder Cup can begin in earnest. Let the pairings speculation begin.

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