ATLANTA (Reuters) - Jim Furyk swept aside any suggestion that he was fortunate to earn one of four U.S. captain’s picks for next week’s Ryder Cup as he charged into a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship in Friday’s second round.
A veteran of seven Ryder Cups, Furyk is the only member of this year’s U.S. team without a victory on the 2012 PGA Tour but he put himself in good position to change that by firing a six-under-par 64 on the challenging East Lake Golf Club layout.
The 42-year-old, a 16-times winner on the U.S. circuit, is widely respected by his peers and felt he was a ‘democratic’ choice as a wildcard Ryder Cup selection by captain Davis Love III.
“Really the opinions that matter to me are those of my captain and those of my team mates,” Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, told reporters after posting a seven-under total of 133 in the PGA Tour’s fourth and final playoff event.
“And there were eight guys (automatic qualifiers) that had a voice in saying who they got to pick. There were four of us chosen (as wildcard picks). I‘m humbled and honored that those eight individuals and the assistants and Davis chose me.”
Furyk, a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup along with Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker, said he has never felt the need to prove himself as a player.
”As far as justifying myself, I‘m going to play well, I‘m going to play bad,“ he said. ”Whatever it may be at the Ryder Cup, my team mates know that I‘m going to give 110 percent.
“They know I have a lot of heart. I have a lot of grit. I’ve never felt like I have to justify myself. I’ve got 19 years behind me and a pretty good track record. I feel like everybody by now should know where I stand.”
Furyk’s Ryder Cup credentials were roundly praised by his U.S. team mates after Friday’s second round.
“It’s not that controversial to us as players but to some it might be who are outside the team,” said former world number one Tiger Woods who has played on six U.S. Ryder Cup teams with Furyk.
“He’s been with all the works of our teams. Since ‘97 he’s been on every team with Phil (Mickelson) and myself. He’s been so solid and so rock steady. He’s a great team player and he’s playing well.”
Masters champion Bubba Watson, who played with Furyk on Friday and was in awe as his compatriot birdied seven of the first 10 holes at East Lake, agreed.
”He brings leadership, focus, drive, determination,“ said left-hander Watson, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor in Wales two years ago. ”This is going to be his eighth one.
“Obviously, he’s been around the block. He’s won. He’s lost. He’s done it all. He’s cried at a few. He brings leadership. That’s the quarterback of the team.”
The U.S. will take on holders Europe in the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago from September 28-30.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue