MEDINAH, Ill. – No other trio of American golfers has qualified for more consecutive Ryder Cup teams than Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk. Collectively, they have won 146 official tournaments around the world, including 19 majors.
That only makes their Ryder Cup record look all the more inferior.
They have been the core of the U.S. team since 1997 at Valderrama, where they combined for a 3-6-1 record as the United States lost the cup. Perhaps it was a sign of what was to come. For all their individual achievement, none has a winning record in the Ryder Cup. They have been on six teams together – Woods missed in 2008 at Valhalla while recovering from knee surgery – and the only celebration they shared was that remarkable comeback at Brookline.
“I would have expected and definitely wished for a much better record than that,” Furyk said Tuesday.
So much has been expected. So little has been delivered. And they are running out of time to leave a lasting impression.
Furyk is 42 and has gone four of the last five PGA Tour seasons without winning, though the exception was in 2010 when he won three times and was voted player of the year. Even so, he had to rely on being a captain’s pick for the first time. Mickelson, also 42, has qualified for nine straight teams dating to 1995. He will set an American record for most Ryder Cups when the matches began Friday. Even so, he narrowly qualified for the team this year.
They will be leaned on heavily again at Medinah as the U.S. tries to win back the cup.
The Americans, dressed in navy blue shirts, headed out for the first full day of practice Tuesday under warm sunshine in the Chicago suburbs.
U.S. captain Davis Love III finally showed his hand by sending out Woods and Steve Stricker, Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. Other pairings were Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, and Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.
There were few surprises on the European side.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal had Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in one group; Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Paul Lawrie in another; and Mark Kaymer, Nicolas Colsaerts, Francesco Molinari and Peter Hanson in a third.
Furyk referred to McIlroy as a “marked man” last week, and not many could argue. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland already is a two-time major champion, with both wins by eight shots. He has established himself as No. 1 in the world without debate.
For so many years, Woods was that guy on the U.S. team, and that’s why his record gets so much attention.
But despite his 86 wins and 14 majors, Woods has never had a winning record in the Ryder Cup. He has combined to go 6-3-0 in his last two events to raise his career record to 13-14-2.
“Certainly, I am responsible for that because I didn’t earn the points that I was put out there for,” said Woods, 36. “And that’s part of being a team. I needed to go get my points for my team, and I didn’t do that. Hopefully, I can do that this week. And hopefully, the other guys can do the same and we can get this thing rolling.”