US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk unveiled the first eight members of his squad on Monday and heaped praise upon Tiger Woods as a potential captain’s pick to fill out the line-up.
Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Rickie Fowler qualified on points after the PGA Championship ended on Sunday.
They join four who previously clinched berths – top-ranked Dustin Johnson, reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed, third-ranked 2017 PGA winner Justin Thomas and second-ranked Brooks Koepka, this year’s PGA Championship and US Open winner.
But Woods, who charged to a runner-up PGA finish with an impressive final round six-under par 64, could still be among the Americans who try to defend the trophy against Europe at Le Golf National near Paris on September 28-30.
“What’s important is how well Tiger has played,” Furyk said. “It’s great to see him playing well. His word is trending. His game is trending.”
Furyk will make four captain’s picks in early September to complete the roster and Woods is expected to be among them, although Furyk played coy when asked if Woods, up to 26th in world rankings from beyond 1,200 last December, could help the team.
“It’s a good question. He’s playing very well and there’s probably a lot of people out there who think he can,” Furyk said.
“I realise he’s playing really well and I’m really excited about Tiger Woods.”
Woods, in the eighth month of his comeback from spinal fusion surgery, has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and hasn’t won any event at all in five years.
But he showed in losing to Koepka he still has formidable skills at the age of 42.
Whether he plays or not, Woods is set to be a vice captain on the US team.
“Tiger has been a vice captain in the team room as a player. He’s priceless to be honest with you. He has been a big help to our captains,” Furyk said.
“It’s a big boost to have the best player who ever lived to be walking with your group.”
Despite missing most of last season, Woods finished 11th on points.
“To be part of the Ryder Cup conversation, going from where I’ve come from to now in the last year, it has been pretty cool,” Woods said.