Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will add considerable experience to the United States team for the 2018 Ryder Cup after being named as two of captain Jim Furyk’s wildcard picks for the clash with Europe at Le Golf National in Paris between September 28-30.
Securing one of the four wildcard picks capped a memorable year for 14-time major winner Woods, one in which he returned from the sidelines and an injury-ravaged absence from the game he dominated for so long.
Woods’ performances far exceeded expectations—particularly in the majors, which included a runner-up finish behind Brooks Koepka in the PGA Championship—and ensured his original position as one of Furyk’s vice-captains will be replaced with a spot on the U.S. Team.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be defending the title the U.S.A won at Hazeltine just two years ago.
“I haven’t been part of the team playing-wise for six years,” said Woods, who last played in the Ryder Cup in 2012. “To have the honour to play again is beyond special.
It’s incredible, it really is, to look back at the start of the year and now to have accomplished a goal like that.”
Coveted wildcard spot
Mickelson was also handed a wildcard spot for his 12th Ryder Cup appearance for the United States, and in Paris he will surpass the record 11 he jointly held with Nick Faldo.
“This is mostly likely my last chance to go over to Europe and to be a part of a winning U.S. team in Europe. We haven’t done that in 25 years,” Mickelson said.
“I set out this year on really a strong commitment and journey to get on the team. I got off to a great start this year. It’s been a really good year, and although I fell just shy of making it on points, it feels great to be a part of this team and serve this team in any way I can.”
Bryson DeChambeau’s end-of-season form also saw him earn a wildcard pick for his Ryder Cup debut following back-to-back victories on the PGA TOUR. He had just missed out on one of the automatic spots having finished ninth in the rankings ahead of Mickelson (10th) and Woods (11th).
One of the strongest squads?
Those facts arguably point to one of the strongest United States teams ever put together. In addition to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the eight automatic qualifiers include major winners Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Rickie Fowler.
“We were looking for players that have a body of work, players that are in good form and we’re heading to Europe, playing on foreign soil, so wanted players that would handle that situation and thrive on it,” said Furyk, who will be bidding to become the first U.S. captain to win on European soil since 1993.
Furyk, meanwhile, will complete his line-up to travel across the Atlantic to Paris when he selects the fourth and final wildcard following the BMW Championship.
Xander Schauffele, Kevin Kisner and Tony Finau are among those who are reportedly being considered for the last coveted spot.
Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar are unlikely to be considered having been named vice-captains along with David Duval. The trio will be joining the previously appointed Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.
The U.S. Ryder Cup Team