The 58 shot by Jim Furyk earlier this year was pretty incredible. Yeah, he holed a shot, but even if you take that away he was going to be close and likely still would have shot 59, which is one small insignificant place below incredible. Pretty freaking awesome, maybe?
What it has done though is really made life a challenge for Davis Love III. To pick a forty-six year-old guy who at the start of this season was planning to help in an assistant coaching capacity is fraught with risk. Furyk's Ryder Cup record is a train wreck. 10-20-4 for a winning percentage of .353. Among active golfers with more than fifteen matches played he is the worst. If you take a look at the all-time records of golfers with more than fifteen matches, only Curtis Strange at 6-12-2 with a win percentage of .350 is worse, and only by a few thousandths of a point. I hate to call out someone like this, but Jim Furyk is pretty awful when playing for his country against Europe.
Herein lies the challenge for Davis. Furyk has experience in this event. Granted it is awful experience but he has been in the team room, he can help some of the younger guys when they are out on the course, and it is hard to argue that he is not playing well. Lost in the USGA bungling of the U.S. Open, Pennsylvania native Jim Furyk was one of the runners-up in that event. Then he shot the 58, and an argument could be made that he should be on the team.
I say no. Jim's past failures in this event are too great to ignore. He is a disaster in four ball and most of the team events and no better in the individual event. He is older and likely at the start of this year had a mindset that he was going to be the Vice Captain and he would be happy to do this. I think he will make a great Vice Captain and eventual Captain. His demeanor is low key but you can tell he grinds out results. Not necessarily Ryder Cup wins, but his career is excellent considering his best years were during the Tiger period of dominance.
Add to this, that a player's Ryder Cup record is absolutely no indicator of his success as a coach. Paul Azinger, currently hailed as the Ryder Cup pod mastermind, was 5-7-3, up there as one of the worst on the U.S. team. Raymond Floyd, another winning Ryder Cup Captain, finished at 12-16-3. How about our current Ryder Cup Captain, DL3? He amassed an uninspiring 9-12-5. So past record has no connection to how you'll be as a Captain. So let's start the process for him to be Captain in 2018. I say he'll do a fine job.
There is history in picking a golfer who is in the twilight of their career and it backfiring. The 1995 Ryder Cup. Lanny Watkins picked forty-year-old Curtis Strange as one of his two captain's picks. Strange, as we know from earlier in the article, is officially the worst Ryder Cupper the U.S. has ever had. He went zero for three and lost an extremely pivotal point on the last hole to Nick Faldo that allowed Europe to pull out the win on U.S. soil. It was a horrible pick and I hope that Davis does not make the same mistake.
I recommend that Love looks to the youth to strengthen the team. The guys who just missed out on qualifying are a mixed bag. Bubba Watson, who should be a fantastic match play golfer has not played very well in the Ryder Cup, he's 3-8-0. J.B. Holmes should certainly be a pick. 2-0-1 at his first and only chance at the event in 2008 and he was quite good in last year's Presidents Cup. Rickie Fowler is behind them, and as much as I like him and how he's playing his record in the Ryder Cup is god awful. 0-3-5. Yes, you read that right, he has never won at the Ryder Cup. He is young, and likely deserves another shot before we completely give up on him, but I would wait until Davis needs to make the fourth pick in late September to see how Fowler plays at the end of the season before taking him.
My picks would be JB Holmes, Matt Kuchar, and Daniel Berger. I am picking Kuchar on the back of his bronze medal performance and he is always solid with U.S. team experience. He is 4-5-2 which compared with those around him is darn near stellar. Berger is a young golfer who has showed a great deal of promise when he has played. Let's give the young guys a chance.
For my last pick I wait to see who plays best through the playoffs. May the best player win, just as long as it's not Furyk.
Photo credits: © Andy Lyons