‘Priceless’ Tiger Woods to be a wild card choice for Ryder Cup

Tiger Woods' thrilling performance in finishing second at the US PGA Championship moved him up to 11th in the US Ryder Cup standing. Picture: AP.
Tiger Woods' thrilling performance in finishing second at the US PGA Championship moved him up to 11th in the US Ryder Cup standing. Picture: AP.
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United States captain Jim Furyk will select another vice-captain if, or more realistically when, he names a “priceless” Tiger Woods as one of his Ryder Cup wild cards.

Woods was expected to be given a wild card even before his thrilling performance in the US PGA Championship at Bellerive, where he finished second behind two-time US Open winner Brooks Koepka.

And although Furyk was not about to make it official during a press conference arranged to discuss the eight automatic qualifiers for his team, the 48-year-old conceded he would choose another vice-captain to allow Woods to concentrate on playing at Le Golf National in Paris in 
September.

“I want to make sure I have five vice-captains there,” Furyk said. “That’s what we’re allowed and I see a lot of value in having all five there. So I will have five.

“Tiger’s been a vice-captain in the team room as a player. He’s priceless, to be honest with you. He’s been really a big help to our captains in both 2016 [Ryder Cup] and 2017 [Presidents Cup] from a strategy perspective and also really serving on the golf course, walking with players. I think it’s been a big boost having the best player maybe to ever live following your group and being there for support.

“I rely on every vice-captain heavily. With Davis Love serving as a captain twice and [Steve] Stricker being our Presidents Cup captain last year, they intimately know these players and know them very well. So to have them there is great.

“But Tiger serves that purpose as a vice-captain or a player and I’m looking forward to having his help.”

Woods moved from 20th in the qualifying race to 11th thanks to his runners-up finish at Bellerive, but Furyk added: “I’m not sure the numbers are always that important when I look down the list. What is important is how well Tiger has played.

“Sixth place at the Open Championship, a second place at the PGA. His game is trending so it’s great to see him playing well. The numbers are nice, good to look at, but not always the most important. We want the players who are going to help us be successful.”

Furyk is also expected to give Phil Mickelson a wild card after the five-time major winner failed to qualify automatically for the first time in his career, with the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson in the frame for the 
remaining two.

The first three wild cards will be named after the Dell Technologies Championship on 3 September and the final selection announced following the BMW Championship on 9 September.

USA’s AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS

Brooks Koepka

Age 28

Caps 1 (2016)

Record Won 3 Lost 1 Halved 0

Majors 3 (US Open 2017, US Open 2018, US PGA 2018)

Since winning three points from four matches on his debut in 2016, Koepka

became the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back US Open titles, with his victory at Erin Hills in 2017 and another at Shinnecock Hills in 2018. Also won his third major in six starts with a thrilling victory over Tiger Woods in the US PGA.

Dustin Johnson

Age 34

Caps 3 (2010, 2012, 2016)

Record Won 6 Lost 5 Halved 0

Majors 1 (US Open 2016)

Finally claimed an overdue major title with victory in the 2016 US Open at Oakmont, despite being penalised a shot in the final round when he was adjudged to have caused his ball to move on the fifth green. Won only one of his four matches in 2010 but all three in 2012. Missed the 2014

contest at Gleneagles due to taking a “leave of absence” from the game. Won two of his four matches in 2016.

Justin Thomas

Age 25

Caps 0

Majors 1 (2017 US PGA)

Technically a rookie but also the 2017 PGA Tour player of the year after winning four times, including his first major title in the US PGA Championship. Second place to Xander Schauffele in the Tour Championship also secured the overall FedEx Cup title and Thomas has won twice more in 2018. Spent four weeks as world No 1 earlier this season.

Patrick Reed

Age 28

Caps 2 (2014, 2016)

Record Won 6 Lost 1 Halved 2

Majors 1

(Masters 2018)

Caused controversy after his victory in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in 2014 by claiming he was one of the top five players in the world, but was unbeaten later that year at Gleneagles with three-and-a-half points from four matches. Also won three-and-a-half points at Hazeltine and

crucially beat Rory McIlroy in an epic

opening singles contest. Claimed his first major title in this year’s Masters.

Bubba Watson

Age 39

Caps 3 (2010, 2012, 2014)

Record Won 3 Lost 8 Halved 0

Majors 2 (2012 Masters, 2014 Masters)

The double Masters champion has a poor record in the Ryder Cup and was overlooked for a wild card in 2016, despite being ranked seventh in the world at the time. Was made a fifth vice-captain instead and made sure he would not miss out in 2018 thanks to three wins on the PGA Tour before the end of June.

Jordan Spieth

Age 25

Caps 2 (2014, 2016)

Record Won 4 Lost 3 Halved 2

Majors 3 (Masters 2015,

US Open 2015, Open 2017)

Shot to fame by winning the 2013 John Deere Classic at the age of 19, becoming the first teenage winner on the PGA Tour since 1931. Won two-and-a-half points from three matches with fellow rookie Patrick Reed in 2014 and two-and-a-half from their four together in 2016. Won the Masters and US Open in 2015 and the Open in 2017, but has not tasted victory since his triumph at Royal Birkdale.

Rickie Fowler

Age 29

Caps 3 (2010, 2014, 2016)

Record Won 2 Lost 4 Halved 5

Majors 0

Failed to win a match on either of his first two appearances, halving two and losing one in 2010 and then halving three matches alongside Jimmy Walker in 2014 before losing 5&4 to Victor Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell and being thrashed by the same score by Rory McIlroy in the singles. Won two of his three matches in 2016, including a crucial singles victory over Justin Rose.

Webb Simpson

Age 33

Caps 2 (2012, 2014)

Record Won 2 Lost 3 Halved 1

Majors 1 (2012 US Open)

Arguably the biggest surprise qualifier, Simpson had been without a win since 2013 until cruising to victory in this year’s Players Championship, with a dominant four-shot win at Sawgrass in May. Also finished tenth in the US Open and 12th in the Open at Carnoustie. Both of his Ryder Cup wins were 5&4 fourball victories with Bubba Watson at Medinah in 2012.