As expected, Tiger Woods was named on the US Ryder Cup team last night alongside Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson as Jim Furyk announced his three picks in Philadelphia.
DeChambeau, Mickelson, and Woods finished ninth, 10th, and 11th in qualifying, when just the top eight earned automatic spots.
The 14-times major champion Woods could not be left out after the form he has displayed in his comeback this year from a potentially career-ending back injury.
Woods contended in the final two majors and while not winning either, showed he is still a player for the big occasion at the age of 42.
Despite that, Woods has a less than stellar record of 13-17-3 in seven Ryder Cup appearances.
Woods had been scheduled to be a vice-captain at Le Golf National in Paris and Furyk announced he would therefore added David Duval, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar to his backroom staff.
Mickelson has played a record 11 consecutive Ryder Cups and qualified automatically every time.
The 48-year-old has a middling 18-20-7 Ryder Cup record but would still have a good chance in Paris of becoming the most successful American of all-time in the event.
DeChambeau has also made himself virtually impossible to overlook after back-to-back wins at the FedExCup playoffs.
Furthermore, DeChambeau and Woods have struck up a rapport that suggests they would be good partners in Paris.
Greater suspense is likely next Monday when Furyk makes one final pick for his 12-man team. Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner, and Xander Schauffele are the frontrunners, though a dominant performance by someone at this week’s BMW Championship may change the picture.
DeChambeau’s spectacular form continued last weekend when the 24-year-old physics major known as the ‘Mad Scientist’ won his second straight event in the FedEx Cup playoffs on Monday, shooting a 4-under-par 67 at TPC Boston to win the Dell Technologies Championship by two strokes over Justin Rose.
It was the third win of the year for DeChambeau, who also won the playoff opener at Ridgewood and is guaranteed the No. 1 seed for the Tour Championship regardless of what happens in the third round.
“People can put that title on me, but I’m not going to. Never will,” DeChambeau said after finishing at 16-under 268 to claim his second straight $1.62m first prize.
I’m just a player out here trying to do my absolute best. And I’ll say that every single time,” he said. “It is cool to have people say that to you. And it is an honor, it really is. At this moment going forward, though, I’m just going to keep going about my business and doing what I can do.
DeChambeau is the first person to win the first two tournaments in the FedEx Cup since Vijay Singh in 2008. DeChambeau still has work to do; he leads Johnson by almost 2,400 points, but the new system keeps the $10m (€8.6m) bonus in flux until the finale at East Lake from September 20-23.
DeChambeau attended the last Ryder Cup, outside of Minneapolis — as a spectator. “I wanted to experience it. I wanted to be a part of that atmosphere and get comfortable with that. So hopefully all things considered I’d be more comfortable when I got there. That was really the reason why I went there.”
A physics major at Southern Methodist, DeChambeau brings an unconventional but scientific approach to his game, peppering his comments with references to biomechanics and error tolerance and filling his bag with clubs that are all the same length (34 inches, or roughly the length of a 7-iron) so he would only have to master one swing.
“I’ve had quite a bit of resistance,” DeChambeau said. “There’s only been a few people that have really helped keep pushing me in the right direction, saying ‘Hey, Bryson, you’re doing the right thing, Keep doing it. Just keep figuring things out.’” He seems to have done that.