By Larry Fine
(Reuters) – Former U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk will captain the defending champion United States in the 2018 Ryder Cup against Europe at Le Golf National in Paris, the PGA of America said on Wednesday.
Furyk, nine times a player in the biennial competition, served as a vice-captain under Davis Love III at Hazeltine last October for the U.S. team that won golf’s top team event for the first time since 2008.
“This is such an honor, I’m actually feeling a little overwhelmed,” Furyk told a news conference at PGA headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
“It’s been my favorite event in my entire career. In my opinion, the Ryder Cup embodies everything special about golf.”
The 46-year-old Furyk was hailed as a “natural leader and great communicator” by PGA of America President Paul Levy in introducing him as the 28th U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
Furyk, a 17-times winner on the PGA Tour who last August recorded the lowest ever PGA Tour round when he shot a 12-under-par 58, was widely considered the frontrunner for the job.
According to multiple reports the selection committee, which included Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Love, whittled down their list for captain to either Furyk or Fred Couples.
Furyk, who is ranked 34th in the world and missed a large chunk of last season after wrist surgery, was part of the Ryder Cup task force created after the U.S. team he played on suffered a humbling defeat at Gleneagles in 2014.
Among the changes that came from that task force, whose aim was to help improve U.S. fortunes in an event they dominated until the mid 1980s, came a plan to groom future captains that would ascend from vice-captaincy roles.
Furyk, who will by trying to register the first U.S. Ryder victory on foreign soil in 25 years, said Love would serve as a vice-captain.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn was named as Europe’s captain for 2018 last month.
Furyk has had his share of Ryder Cup disappointments, compiling a 10-20-4 record as a player with his teams losing seven of nine competitions. Yet his love for the event burns strong.
“It has the teamwork, the camaraderie, the competition, the passion. It brings fans together from worldwide,” said Furyk, whose nine Ryder Cup appearances as a player are second behind only Phil Mickelson’s 11.
“I get chills thinking about all the events I have been able to participate in and how fortunate I’ve been.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)