Rory McIlroy took a shot at the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s task force last year prior to the event when he said the U.S. had, “Definitely assembled the best task force ever, that’s for sure.” McIlroy’s comment was in response to Davis Love’s claim that his team may be, “the best golf team, maybe, ever assembled.” Of course McIlroy made the comment because the European team had won eight out of the previous 10 events leading into 2016 and their formula has been to start early by naming their next captain almost as soon as the tournament is over; to that extent Thomas Bjorn was named captain of the 2018 European team early in December of 2016, just a month after the Ryder Cup had ended.
Entering 2017, the U.S. was looking to get ahead by naming their captain early as well and the rumor was that the man who would get the honor would be Jim Furyk. On Wednesday those rumors were confirmed as Furyk was officially announced as the next captain for the U.S. team.
While Furyk may not be a fan favorite on the course during the event because his Ryder Cup record is atrocious; in nine appearances he has a record of 10-20-4, and even though he may not be as popular as Tiger, or Phil, or even Davis for that matter, he is a very smart and savvy player while on the course… outside of the Ryder Cup.
With his nine appearances in the event, he will be the most experienced captain the U.S. team has ever had. Of course the next question is whether or not he will be a playing captain, which U.S. fans likely do not want to see.
When asked about that during the announcement at PGA of America headquarters, Furyk said:
“I don’t want to say no, but also, my main focus and what I’m really interested now, is being a captain.”
Later on the Golf Channel, Furyk expounded on his answer:
“If this time next year, I’m in the talk, if I’m in the top eight [on the points list], then I think it’s time to have that discussion.”
While I am personally not too thrilled with the idea of Furyk being a playing captain, the last to do so was Arnold Palmer in 1963, it would be hard to deny him that privilege if he actually is in the top eight on the points list and while I highly doubt that happens, it is a possibility if he were to have a couple of good performances at not only majors but other tournaments as well. Furyk finished 15th on the points list last season and didn’t start playing until May.
He finished second at the U.S. Open behind Dustin Johnson in 2016 and carded the lowest round in PGA Tour history, a 58, during the Travelers Championship where he finished tied for fifth. Furky also had a top 15 finish at the RBC Canadian Open and finished 10th at the Wyndham Championship. In 2015 he had one win, one top five finish, and seven top 10 finishes, but that Ryder Cup record is almost too much to handle at this point.
While Furyk may be a great captain for the team, he has a lot of work to do to prove that he deserves the benefit of the doubt in naming himself a playing captain.