Ryder Cup 2018: Tiger Woods to be replaced as vice-captain with Jim Furyk prepared to pick ‘priceless’ teammate

Jack de Menezes
The Independent

Jim Furyk will replace Tiger Woods as vice-captain should he make one of his captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup, with the 14-time major winner set to be one of his four additional inclusions for next month’s showdown in Paris.

After a thrilling final day at the PGA Championship saw Woods narrowly miss out on a first major in more than a decade to fellow American Brooks Koepka, United States captain Furyk admitted that he will consider drafting in a replacement for Woods to allow the 42-year-old the chance to concentrate on his game at Le Golf National.

Woods could still qualify in one of the eight automatic places, with Sunday’s runners-up spot lifting him from 20th to 11th in the rankings, but Furyk is almost certain to pick him as one of his four wildcards should he maintain his return to form and fitness.

"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.

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"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."

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Jim Furyk will replace Tiger Woods as his vice-captain if he is selected on his 12-man team (Reuters)

Woods has made his intentions clear that he intends to be at the Ryder Cup as a player as well as a vice-captain, but Furyk will lift that burden should he make the 12-man team and give those non-playing responsibilities to another individual not currently involved. At present, Furyk will have Love and Stricker as his vice-captains, leaving a space for two more players to join his staff plus the replacement for Woods.

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Having also finished sixth at The Open last month, Woods looks to be returning to form at the perfect time for the US team, who are looking to build on the 17-11 rout they secured two years ago and win in Europe for the first time since their victory at The Belfry in 1993. But he could yet need a captain’s pick from Furyk, who is also likely to give one to Phil Mickelson after the five-time major winner missed out on qualifying for the Ryder Cup for the first time in his career.

Should Woods and Mickelson take up two of the picks, Furyk will have to select from a competitive group featuring the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Xander Schaufelle and Matt Kuchar, as well as outsiders Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland and Kyle Stanley.

The current eight automatic picks are filled by PGA Champion Koepka – who also won a second consecutive US Open earlier this year – world No 1 Dustin Johnson, reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson in what would be an incredibly strong line-up for the defending Ryder Cup holders. Furyk will make three of his four picks on 3 September after Dell Technologies Championship, before his last selection is due on 9 September after the BMW Championship ahead of the tournament on 28-30 September.

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