Furyk will cap­tain Ry­der Cup team if asked

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

ST. SI­MONS IS­LAND, GA. >> Noth­ing about Jim Furyk’s game would sug­gest with cer­tainty he has played his last Ry­der Cup.

Aes­thet­ics aside, the West Ch­ester na­tive has one of the most re­peat­able and re­li­able swings. In an era of the long ball, he has won 21 times in 23 years around the world. He played in ev­ery Ry­der Cup from 1997 un­til this year, when wrist surgery kept him from start­ing his sea­son un­til May. He still man­aged a run­ner-up fin­ish at the U.S. Open, be­came the first player in PGA Tour his­tory to shoot 58 and was un­der se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion as a cap­tain’s pick un­til the fi­nal two weeks.

The only thing that could change his Ry­der Cup out­look would be a re­quest — not a cam­paign — to be the cap­tain. “I would ac­cept the job,” he said. That doesn’t mean he is lob­by­ing to be the next U.S. cap­tain. the Ch­ester County na­tive sim­ply gave an hon­est an­swer to a hy­po­thet­i­cal ques­tion.

He con­tem­plates be­ing Ry­der Cup cap­tain the way he con­sid­ers his chances for the World Golf Hall of Fame.

He doesn’t think about it at all un­less some­one brings it up. In this case, three re­porters stopped him in the lobby of the Sea Is­land Lodge af­ter he opened with 64-69 in the fi­nal PGA Tour event of the year.

The six-mem­ber Ry­der Cup com­mit­tee has its first meet­ing in two weeks to start lay­ing the ground­work for pick­ing the next cap­tain. Among the can­di­dates who are bound to come up are the 46-year-old Furyk and Steve Stricker, the cur­rent Presidents Cup cap­tain who

turns 50 in Fe­bru­ary.

Davis Love III, the win­ning cap­tain at Hazel­tine, is on the com­mit­tee with Tiger Woods, Phil Mick­el­son and three PGA of Amer­ica of­fi­cials.

“Again, it’s all hy­po­thet­i­cal,” Furyk said. “I haven’t had a con­ver­sa­tion with Tiger, Phil, Davis. I haven’t had any con­ver­sa­tion with the PGA of Amer­ica, so I don’t want to put the cart be­fore the horse. That com­mit­tee is in place for a rea­son. If they de­cide ‘18, ‘20, ‘22, when­ever it is, if they de­cide that I’m the right per­son, I would love to have that job. I think ev­ery­one would. Any­one in that po­si­tion would want that tap on

the shoul­der and that con­fi­dence that Davis was given.”

The more he spoke, the more clear it be­came how much the play­ers now have a stake in ev­ery as­pect of the Ry­der Cup. Furyk was part of the task force that first met two years ago and ul­ti­mately asked Love to be cap­tain for the sec­ond time.

Furyk con­sid­ers it one of the high­est hon­ors — not just be­ing the cap­tain, but the man­ner in which a cap­tain is cho­sen.

“Un­less I’m wrong, I don’t think you pub­licly pine for the job or pro­mote your­self or say, ‘I re­ally want the job,”’ he said.

He re­calls the task force throw­ing out the best qual­i­ties

of a cap­tain, the na­ture of the job and the best can­di­dates. Be­fore long, they all set­tled on Love.

“I think that’s the high­est com­pli­ment you can be paid,” Furyk said. “He didn’t ask for the job. That com­mit­tee went to him and said, ‘Hey, we want you to take the job. Would you like it?’... Those six folks will try to fig­ure out who the next guy is. They’re go­ing to try to fig­ure out who the ab­so­lute best per­son is for the job.”

Love said only that the next U.S. cap­tain would be “some­body with ex­pe­ri­ence.” The trou­ble now is that some can­di­dates are still play­ing good golf. Furyk,

for ex­am­ple, is No. 34 in the world even though he missed six months of the pre­vi­ous sea­son. Mick­el­son is de­ter­mined to ex­tend his record by qual­i­fy­ing for his 12th straight team.

Are such play­ers forced to choose be­tween be­ing a cap­tain and want­ing to play?

“That’s the big thing we’ll talk about in early De­cem­ber,” Love said. “Who are the can­di­dates and how do they feel about it?”

Furyk re­al­izes mak­ing an­other team will be tougher than ever. He plans to re­duce his sched­ule to about 18 events a year, which puts him at a dis­ad­van­tage with play­ers half his age who play a lot

more. And while he was 15th in Ry­der Cup points with a lim­ited sched­ule, nearly half those points came from one tour­na­ment (U.S. Open).

Be­fore leav­ing Me­d­i­nah in 2012, Furyk said he looked over the top of the bridge on the first tee at a sea of fans dressed in red and won­dered if that was his last Ry­der Cup. He made the 2014 team, and when it was over, he stood on the 18th green by him­self at Gle­nea­gles and won­dered the same thing.

“Maybe I played my last one,” he said. “I don’t know.”

If the Ry­der Cup com­mit­tee de­cides Furyk is the best choice for cap­tain, there won’t be any doubt.

STEPHEN B. MOR­TON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jim Furyk hits off the first tee dur­ing the fi­nal round at the RSM Clas­sic golf tour­na­ment in St. Si­mons Is­land, Ga. on Sun­day. Furyk is a likely can­di­date to be the next U.S. cap­tain for France in 2018.

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