Jim Furyk to decide whether Tiger Woods is a vice-captain or a player at the Ryder Cup

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

United States captain Jim Furyk admits his side has a battle on their hands to retain the Ryder Cup, whether Tiger Woods is a vice-captain or a player in Paris.

Furyk will know the identity of his eight automatic qualifiers at the end of the US PGA on Sunday evening, with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed having already secured their place on the team.

Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson currently occupy the other automatic qualifying berths for what promises to be one of the strongest American teams ever assembled, with Fowler the only one of the top eight without a major title.

"I think you've got a battle of two giants," Furyk said in his pre-tournament press conference at Bellerive. "You look at the world rankings right now, the top 20 players are dominated by Europeans and Americans. So you've got two very, very solid teams and we have our hands full.

"You look at guys with experience - Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, (Francesco) Molinari, who just won the Open Championship, Justin Rose. And you look at the guys that we're calling rookies even on both sides; you look at (Tyrrell) Hatton, (Tommy) Fleetwood, (Jon) Rahm, (Alex) Noren, and those are four of their hottest players.

"They're going to have a really strong team. In theory possibly the strongest team Europe's ever fielded. They have the home-course advantage, a partisan crowd.

"I like the players we have, but we'll be looking to fill that in. I'm looking for 12 guys that will really accept the challenge ahead of us because it's been 25 years since we won in Europe."

Furyk admits Woods might have to recuse himself from discussions over the wild cards given that, barring victory in the US PGA, he will need one himself to make the team.

But he refused to directly answer the question when asked whether the 14-time major winner, who is currently 20th on the points list, had already done enough.

"We had a conversation back in January about being a vice captain and we talked about him possibly playing," Furyk added. "That's what he wanted to talk about. He knew then, I think, that he was on the mend.

"By March I saw that his game and his health was in a lot better shape so he's been challenging this year and moving up that points list, which has been fun to watch.

"I have three or four weeks before I have to make those picks. So trying to interpret whether he's done enough or not done enough is a position that I don't have to put myself in now."

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