Furyk counted on to help anchor US team
With 21 caps between them, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are being counted on to not only hit some great shots but also help calm the nerves of the four rookies on the US Ryder Cup team.
The 42-year-old Furyk has played 27 Ryder Cup matches dating back to 1997 and will be making his eighth consecutive appearance. With that kind of Ryder Cup resume it's no wonder that teammate Bubba Watson likes to refer to him as the "quarterback" of the USA team.
"Bubba called me the quarterback last week which makes me a little nervous," Furyk said. "I am not sure what the plays are and I am going to have to call them."
Furyk is certainly enjoying being in a position where he can give advice to some of the younger players like Watson, who is competing in his second Ryder Cup.
But even with his limited experience, the 33-year-old Watson still has the upper hand on Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley who are all in their first Ryder Cup.
"I think it is good to have our rookies," Furyk said. "It is good to have some new energy.
"It is also nice to go in knowing what to expect. As a veteran player I try to step out of what's going on inside the team room and sit back and watch and look for some body language.
"It is just a little thing here or there that could help or may trigger a guy.
"When you are on the golf course and a guy is hanging his head, you can tell he's upset about the way he played. Just a comment here or there to relax them and let them know we are going to need them the next day."
Furyk's eight appearances ties him for second all-time among the US team members. Mickelson hasn't missed a Ryder Cup since his debut in 1995 and 14-time major winner Woods is making his seventh appearance. Between the three of them they provide the core leadership that American skipper Davis Love was looking for when he drafted up the team.
"Phil is my age," Furyk said. "He was always the golden boy from junior golf and college on. I think everyone would have chosen Tiger and Phil to be in all those matches, maybe not necessarily me. So I am proud of that fact and proud of the consistency over the last few years."
The one thing Furyk isn't thrilled about is the Americans' disappointing record in recent Ryder Cups. The USA have lost four of the last five Ryder Cups, including the last one in 2010 at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.
Their last victory was four years ago at Valhalla in Kentucky and Furyk hopes playing on home soil in front of raucous partisan galleries at Medinah Country Club will give them the edge this time.
"The European fans even with say 3 000 fans here, they can make a lot of noise," Furyk said. "They have their soccer chants and songs.
"But I know that 37 000 Americans can drown out 3 000 Europeans if they want to. Our job will be to get out there and try to make a good start and make some birdies and engage the crowd and show some emotions. If we can do that, then the rest of the world will find out how good sports fans in Chicago are."
Dufner, 35, said each of the four rookies will probably handle the pressure of playing in their first Ryder Cup differently.
"It's probably specific to the individual," Dufner said. "Guys are going to be reacting to the situation a little bit differently. The only way to know how you are going to be is to be involved in it."
Furyk said he's looking forward to feeding off the raw energy that will come from the younger players, including Bradley who was the PGA Tour's rookie of the year in 2011.
"We have got a good mix of guys," Furyk said. "The young guys are starting to figure out what the team room is all about and enjoying themselves and having fun.
"That dynamic is going to grow and get stronger as the week goes on."