ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Nothing about Jim Furyk’s game would suggest with certainty he has played his last Ryder Cup.
Aesthetics aside, he has one of the most repeatable and reliable swings. In an era of the long ball, he has won 21 times in 23 years around the world. He played in every Ryder Cup from 1997 until this year, when wrist surgery kept him from starting his season until May. He still managed a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, became the first player in PGA Tour history to shoot 58 and was under serious consideration as a captain’s pick until the final two weeks.
The only thing that could change his Ryder Cup outlook would be a request — not a campaign — to be the captain.
“I would accept the job,” he said.
That doesn’t mean he is lobbying to be the next U.S. captain. Furyk simply gave an honest answer to a hypothetical question.
He contemplates being Ryder Cup captain the way he considers his chances for the World Golf Hall of Fame. He doesn’t think about it at all unless someone brings it up. In this case, three reporters stopped him in the lobby of the Sea Island Lodge after he opened with 64-69 in the final PGA Tour event of the year.
The six-member Ryder Cup committee has its first meeting in two weeks to start laying the groundwork for picking the next captain. Among the candidates who are bound to come up are the 46-year-old Furyk and Steve Stricker, the current Presidents Cup captain who turns 50 in February.
Davis Love III, the winning captain at Hazeltine, is on the committee with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and three PGA of America officials.
“Again, it’s all hypothetical,” Furyk said. “I haven’t had a conversation with Tiger, Phil, Davis. I haven’t had any conversation with the PGA of America, so I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. That committee is in place for a reason. If they decide ’18, ’20, ’22, whenever it is, if they decide that I’m the right person, I would love to have that job. I think everyone would. Anyone in that position would want that tap on the shoulder and that confidence that Davis was given.”
The more he spoke, the more clear it became how much the players now have a stake in every aspect of the Ryder Cup. Furyk was part of the task force that first met two years ago and ultimately asked Love to be captain for the second time.
Furyk considers it one of the highest honors — not just being the captain, but the manner in which a captain is chosen.
“Unless I’m wrong, I don’t think you publicly pine for the job or promote yourself or say, ‘I really want the job,'” he said.
He recalls the task force throwing out the best qualities of a captain, the nature of the job and the best candidates. Before long, they all settled on Love.
“I think that’s the highest compliment you can be paid,” Furyk said. “He didn’t ask for the job. That committee went to him and said, ‘Hey, we want you to take the job. Would you like it?’… Those six folks will try to figure out who the next guy is. They’re going to try to figure out who the absolute best person is for the job.”
Love said only that the next U.S. captain would be “somebody with experience.” The trouble now is that some candidates are still playing good golf. Furyk, for example, is No. 34 in the world even though he missed six months of the previous season. Mickelson is determined to extend his record by qualifying for his 12th straight team.
Are such players forced to choose between being a captain and wanting to play?
“That’s the big thing we’ll talk about in early December,” Love said. “Who are the candidates and how do they feel about it?”
Furyk realizes making another team will be tougher than ever. He plans to reduce his schedule to about 18 events a year, which puts him at a disadvantage with players half his age who play a lot more. And while he was 15th in Ryder Cup points with a limited schedule, nearly half those points came from one tournament (U.S. Open).
Before leaving Medinah in 2012, Furyk said he looked over the top of the bridge on the first tee at a sea of fans dressed in red and wondered if that was his last Ryder Cup. He made the 2014 team, and when it was over, he stood on the 18th green by himself at Gleneagles and wondered the same thing.
“Maybe I played my last one,” he said. “I don’t know.”
If the Ryder Cup committee decides Furyk is the best choice for captain, there won’t be any doubt.