The U.S. Ryder Cup Team has taken shape, with eight automatic qualifiers now known and just captain Jim Furyk’s four wildcard picks to be decided.
Brooks Koepka’s victory in the PGA Championship at Bellerive—his second of the year having also won the U.S. Open—means the three-time major winner is guaranteed a spot in the American line up which will take on Europe at Le Golf National in Paris between 28-30 September.
The final major of the year was also the last chance for the top eight positions in the standings to change, but all eight players occupying the automatic qualification spots before Bellerive remained in place and will be heading to Paris.
The U.S. Ryder Cup Team
Koepka will be joined by world number one Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson as the eight qualifiers. It is an incredibly strong U.S. team which will bid for a first win on European soil since 1993.
“I wanted a team that would really enjoy that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “Looking at these eight guys, they will enjoy this challenge.”
Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson were among those to fall short and now in need of a wildcard pick from Furyk, who will decide on the four names on 4 September when the United States team is formally announced.
It is expected that Tiger Woods—who was runner-up to Koepka at Bellerive as he continued his impressive comeback from injury—will be given one of those spots. The 14-time major winner was named as a vice-captain by Furyk, but it looks likely Woods will have a greater part to play in Paris.
Furyk said: “He is playing very well. There are probably lot of folks out there who think he can help us. Really what we wanted to talk about today is the top eight players. I realise Tiger is a story, that he is playing well, and I’m excited to see that.”
Has Tiger Woods got a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup Team?
He added: “Tiger’s priceless, to be honest with you. He’s been really a big help to our captains in both 2016 and 2017 [at The Presidents Cup] from a strategy perspective, from personnel, personalities, and also really serving on the golf course. I mean, 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.”
Woods himself expressed his desire to return as a player after his runner-up finish in the PGA Championship.
“I do want to be on the team as a player,” he said. “I’m going to be there either way. Our captain has some decisions to make after the first (FedExCup) Playoff events, and we’ll sit down and give him our input and what we think and who should be on the team, and who can contribute to the team, and hopefully my name will be part of that process.”
Woods will vie with the likes of Mickelson, DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar for one of those four wildcard picks.