CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jim Furyk, captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, recently took his entire family on a trip to Paris to check out the site of the 2018 matches. Furyk played a round at Le Golf National in a dream foursome, alongside his son Tanner, his father and his father-in-law.
"They rolled out kind of the red carpet at Le Golf National," Furyk said at Quail Hollow on Wednesday ahead of the 99th PGA Championship, which begins on Thursday. "The red captain's cart was out. I was kind of proud to ride around in that with dad. It was fun to have my son.
"As far as the golf, we don't play a lot of golf together," he said. "My son doesn't play a lot of golf. So I can't remember the last time the four of us, if the four of us have ever played a round of golf. It was just kind of fun to hang out. I'm not on vacation that often where I go play a round of golf and really don't care at all about how I play; it's more about the day. Golf has always been a lot more about work for me and trying to get better. It was a special round just in that I think it's something we'll talk about at Christmas for years to come. It was a great bonding experience I think for the whole family."
Though Furyk was on a scouting trip — he loved what he saw and understood why European Tour players regard Le Golf National as one of the top three courses they play all season — the Ryder Cup points standings weren't on his mind a whole lot.
"It's still very early in the process, but it's good to see guys playing well," he said. "Really, we made the points list, identify the guys that were playing well in the year of, and everyone has a great opportunity next year to play well in 2018. You know, we want to put the guys on the team that really are playing well and are in good form going into The Ryder Cup. With the way the points work, that will give everyone a great opportunity to make the team next year."
While he may not be looking at the list constantly, Furyk is pleased that Americans have won two World Golf Championships events this year as well as two majors. Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open and Jordan Spieth the Open Championship.
Like everyone else, Furyk was wowed by what Spieth accomplished late at Birkdale, playing the final six holes in 5-under to sprint past Matt Kuchar.
Furyk didn't get to see the action live. He was playing in the PGA Tour's opposite event that week in Alabama. When he finally got to a TV following his final round, Furyk saw Spieth hoisting the Claret Jug. It wasn't until conversations with friends, other players and seeing the highlights later that night that he realized how extraordinary Spieth's victory was.
"Pretty amazing," said Furyk, a man who has recorded both a 59 and a 58 in PGA Tour events. "Pretty amazing to be that young but that mature. I guess he's also, you know, been able to win major championships. He had a close call at Augusta where things got derailed on the back nine, so he's lived through some heartbreak, as well. I'm sure it's experiences like that that helped him along the way. Helped him realize that this event's not over.
"Took a long time from what I've heard, but [Spieth had] a great bogey [on 13], kept him in the golf tournament. But to finish, I believe the last six holes 5-under is amazing."
Furyk mentioned Kuchar's one-shot lead after 13 holes in the final round at the Open Championship and said, "if he plays those last holes in 1- or 2-under, he still loses; that's pretty much unheard of in a major championship. Hats off to him. I don't think there's much you can do but kind of shake your head."
As for his own game, it's been a struggle for Furyk this season. In 17 starts, he has just one Top 10 finish and 10 missed cuts. Pain in his left shoulder has made it difficult for the 17-time Tour winner to get comfortable on the course.
Last Tuesday, Furyk had an MRI that revealed an irregularity in the shoulder area, but it didn't pinpoint the exact cause of the pain, something he admitted was a little frustrating. The next day, he received a cortisone shot. He's hoping to play all this week at Quail Hollow and then next week at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro before taking some time off to hopefully let the shoulder heal and -- if it doesn't -- evaluate his options from there.
"They didn't think it was a labrum tear," Furyk said. "It didn't seem that serious. But I've been in quite a bit of pain playing, so I need to figure out what it is and get healthy again. This sport's difficult enough to play when you're healthy. And it's hard to play with the best guys in the world, with the best players in the world, when you're not 100 percent. My goal, really, after these two weeks is to get back to 100 percent and to get my health, work hard in the offseason and come out raring to go when I get a chance to have some starts in the future."
For now though, Furyk's focus will be on Quail Hollow, where he has won once (2006) and has twice finished second.
"I always enjoy coming to Quail Hollow," he said. "I love Charlotte. It's a wonderful city and I have some great memories of playing here, from a win, from a loss in a playoff. I think three years ago now, I lost by one to J.B. Holmes after a good Sunday round. It's a place I'm comfortable."
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