ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Although his team for next year’s Ryder Cup is still evolving, U.S. captain Davis Love III added three vice captains on Wednesday.
Love, who already tabbed Tom Lehman to be one of his assistants, named Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker vice captains for next year’s matches at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.
“They'll be my eyes and ears out there every week on Tour, even though I'm going to be out there, I hope, a lot with them,” Love said. “It’s going to make an incredible statement to our players that, 'Hey, these guys are ready to go. We're excited about it. We have a game plan.'”
Love said Woods stressed to him as early as last December at the initial meetings of the Ryder Cup task force that he wanted to be a part of the U.S. team, even if that means serving as a vice captain.
“Once I’m fully healthy, I’d like to try to make the team too, but either way, I’m very excited to work with Davis, the other vice captains and the players to get a U.S. victory,” Woods said in a statement.
Woods, who has a 13-17-3 record in seven Ryder Cup appearances, had a follow-up procedure in October following a second back surgery on Sept. 16. There is no timetable for his return to the PGA Tour.
Still, Woods told Love that he wanted to play on next year’s U.S. team and be a vice captain.
“He wants to play and be a vice captain. He wants to be the leader of his group, whoever that is, of guys that he's going to probably play with,” Love said. “Tiger is very capable of doing that. If I made the team, I would want to just play. I would want to focus on playing. I would think my mind would be too many other places.”
Unlike Woods, Stricker and Furyk, the latter of whom is currently No. 10 on the U.S. point list, both expressed a desire to focus exclusively on playing if they made the U.S. team and not serve the dual role of a playing vice captain.
Love has not named his fifth and final vice captain, and if any of his current vice captains make the U.S. team, either through automatic qualifying or via a captain’s pick, he will have the option to name a replacement.
Furyk, 45, has played nine consecutive Ryder Cups and has a 10-20-4 record in the matches. Stricker, who also served as a vice captain at the 2014 matches and earlier this year at the Presidents Cup, has played in the biennial event three times, going 3-7-1.
“The Ryder Cup is in my DNA and I love everything about this event, the enormity of the stage, the passion, the competition, and the pressure,” Furyk said.
Love, Lehman, Stricker, Furyk and Woods served on last year’s Ryder Cup task force, which was formed in the wake of the U.S. loss at Gleneagles in 2014 to create a blueprint for future captains and encourage more dialogue between potential captains and players.
“These guys signed up and engaged, and you cannot believe the conversations that I've had with all of those guys on the task force,” Love said. “We've whittled it down to Tom and Tiger and Jim and Steve and I. We're off and running. We've got our group and we're going to get to work.”