Different Strokes: Jim Furyk to make America great again

Meanwhile, Lee Westwood’s horse resembled his attempts to win a major

Jim Furyk is expected to be announced as the US Ryder Cup captain for the 2018 match in Paris. Photo: Getty Images

Jim Furyk is expected to be announced as the US Ryder Cup captain for the 2018 match in Paris. Photo: Getty Images

 

The rumour mill that has churned this past fortnight with speculation over the next US Ryder Cup captain will spit out its answer on Wednesday when nine-time player Jim Furyk is expected to be announced in the role. The 46-year-old former US Open champion apparently only had Freddie Couples for competition as Team USA look to defend the cup in Paris next September.

Furyk was one of Davis Love’s small army of vice-captains at Hazeltine last year and has always said he’d be interested in the job if it came up. It was bound to at some stage but it is mildly surprising that it has come along now, at a time when Furyk is still a perfectly competitive tour pro.

The move is doubtless a result of the Americans’ determination to keep doing things differently to how they were done in the past during the long stretch of defeats – many of them featuring Furyk as a player, of course. Certainly, Couples would have been an obvious fit in another era – a legend of the game, popular with the players, long settled on the Champions Tour. To turn to Furyk now while he is still a factor on tour seems a pointed effort to keep the captain visible and close to the players throughout qualification.

The appointment would make Furyk the highest-ranked player to be chosen as US captain since Tom Lehman was given the role for the 2006 matches in the K Club. Furyk is currently 37th in the world, while Lehman was 57th when he got the call in November 2004. Most of the other recent American captains had long since stopped being a factor on tour once they were elevated to the role.

Davis Love, Tom Watson, Corey Pavin and Paul Azinger were pipe-and-slippers men by the time their call came whereas Furyk was joint runner-up to Dustin Johnson in last year’s US Open at Oakmont. And Lehman, in fact, very nearly won a tournament after being announced as captain, twice finishing tied for second in 2005. Furyk’s last win was in 2015 but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him buck the trend between now and next September.

French Open gets Chinese sponsor

China’s HNA Group has agreed a five-year deal to become title sponsor of the Open de France, which will also join the new Rolex Series with a prize fund of €6.5 million, the European Tour said on Monday.

HNA’s backing marks the first time a China-based organisation has sponsored a European Tour event outside the country. The tournament at Le Golf National outside Paris (above) celebrated its 100th edition last year and will host the Ryder Cup next year.

The Rolex Series will now have eight tournaments with the addition of the June 29th-July 2nd Open de France, which will be the second event on the schedule after the BMW PGA at Wentworth at the end of May. The series continues with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by Rory McIroy at Portstewart and the Scottish Open before the Italian Open in Rome in October.

It ends in November with the Turkish Airlines Open, the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. All tournaments offer minimum prize funds of €6.5million with the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai topping €7.5million.

Quote of the week

“I have a six-hour Polo photo shoot tomorrow morning; so it’s not going to be anything too crazy tonight.”

Justin Thomas with probably the most golfy excuse ever not to go on a bender after his win in Hawaii.

Twitter Talk

“Ouch!” - @WestwoodLee responds to a picture of his horse Augusta Kate falling at the last at Naas on Sunday.

By The Numbers

1 & 655: Tiger Woods was ranked number 1 in the world ranking the last time he played four tournaments in five weeks in 2013. As he prepares to do it again from January 26th, he’s 655th.

Know The Rules

Q: Your playing partner has started laying a club on the ground pointing at the target and lining his feet up accordingly before throwing it aside to hit his shot. It bugs you because you class it as an illegal aid. Are you right?

A: You are not. If he’d left it on the ground and played his shot with it at his feet, he would have been penalised two strokes or lost the hole. But under decision 8.2a, he’s okay as long as he gets rid of it before hitting his shot.

What’s in the bag?

Justin Thomas (SBS Tournament of Champions)

Driver: Titleist 917D3 9.5? (Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana White Board 70X)

Fairway wood: Titleist 917F3 15? (Mitsubishi Rayon S+ Limited Edition 80TX)

Irons: Titleist 712U (2), Titleist 716 MB (4-9) (True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100)

Wedges: Vokey SM6 46, Vokey SM5 52, 56, 60 (True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (46), S400 (52, 56, 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron X5 Prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Shoes: FootJoy Icon

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