A weary Team USA arrived in France on Monday afternoon in advance of this week’s Ryder Cup, with captain Jim Furyk promptly giving his players the rest of the day off.
The team boarded a charter flight to France following Sunday’s final round in Atlanta, where all the players except for Jordan Spieth had competed in their fourth playoff event in a five-week period.
While Team Europe was getting in a practice round at Le Golf National, Furyk left his 12 players and five vice captains at the hotel while he participated in a joint press conference with counterpart Thomas Bjorn.
It was a long and emotion-filled Sunday for Team USA, with Tiger Woods winning his first PGA Tour title in five years and vice captain Steve Stricker winning on the Champions Tour.
“We were waiting yesterday, we had a major victory for the team and we had a whole group of guys waiting in the team room, and then a giant roar when Steve Stricker walked in the room after his victory last night,” Furyk said. “It was fun to see Strick play well on the Champions Tour in South Dakota and obviously Tiger played so well at the Tour Championship, and to grab a hold of the golf tournament early and fend everyone off, I think was a good buzz in the team room.”
Team USA, which has only six players who have played at Le Golf National, will get in three days of practice ahead of Friday’s start to the Ryder Cup.
“They have played the French Open here,” Furyk said of Team Europe’s home-course advantage. “They have had a lot of success here with the past two champions and a number of top-10s.
“That’s one of the things we have to overcome in that preparation, and learning this golf course first is most important. The compatibility and how that will work and foursomes and four-balls will also help, as well.”
While Woods is coming off a victory and Dustin Johnson reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the world rankings following Sunday’s third-place finish, several other Americans do not arrive in France in top form.
Spieth didn’t even qualify for the 30-player Tour Championship field. Phil Mickelson finished dead last at 13-over, failing to post a single round better than 2-over. He finished just behind Team USA teammates Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson, with Koepka posting the only rounds in the 60s among the trio at East Lake Golf Club.
“The way I look at it is in my career, I’ve played very well in practice and had rough tournaments,” Furyk said. “I’ve had bad practice in some events and went on to win those same events. So last week is kind of behind us.”
—Field Level Media