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USA TODAY

ST. LOUIS – It was in January when Jim Furyk asked the 668th-placed player in the world – a golfer who had a fourth spine operation at the time and had all made a start in the last 12 months – when he became I Vice-captain for the Ryder Cup team of the United States act.

Sure, Tiger Woods said. Then he told Furyk that he wanted more. He wanted to play.

What sounded absurd at the time is not so.

"That was probably a sign that I should have made up much faster," admitted Furyk, the US captain, on Wednesday for the 100th PGA Championship at the Bellerive Country Club. "I know that Tiger always wanted to compete, but it was beautiful (clear) – you know, quickly, until March, I saw that his game was in much better shape and his health was in much better shape."

It was. And Tiger just wanted to prove it. Fourteen starts, five top 10 and 617 places climbed into the world rankings later. Woods has been strong in one of Furyk's four captain spades for the 2018 Ryder Cup, which will be held in late September in Paris. Apart from a win this week at Bellerive – which would mark Woods's first major championship victory in a decade – selecting a captain is the only way to dismiss him in Paris.

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It could be a tricky decision for Furyk, considering Woods is one of his three vice-captains along with Davis Love III and Steve Stricker. When it does come, Furyk admitted on Wednesday that Woods essentially has to say goodbye to the debate. It could be so easy to leave the room for 10 minutes while the other captains weigh his candidacy for a place in his ninth Ryder Cup team.

Furyk speaks from experience. He had to do the same thing two years ago when he served under love as vice-captain and the US captains rated his candidacy as a player. (Furyk was eventually expelled from the team.)

"There was a time when we three were sitting in a conference room, and I went to the bathroom and returned 10 minutes later to give them some opportunity to speak," said Furyk. "It's an awkward situation … I've known Tiger for a long time and we're friends and I respect him. It will not be a difficult process to force him to apologize to himself, and we'll be dealing with those situations and issues like Davis and myself in the past. "

Woods is currently ranked 20th in the US Ryder Cup, but finishes well in a big championship in five years, finishing sixth in the British Open last month.

" I am went from zero to 20 in seven months, "Woods said Tuesday." As I said last week, I tend. That's all I'll say. "

Furyk's troop will try and do something no US team has done in a quarter of a century: Winning on European soil Europe has won six out of the last eight games, including all overseas in 1993. The challenge is a steep one.

"In theory," Furyk said, "his team is likely to be the strongest team ever to play in Europe, and we've got our hands full."

Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are considered locks for the squad. An eighth automatic qualifier will earn its place until Sunday evening; Furyk will announce its four captains spicks at the third leg of the FedEx Cup in September. Those in the race, along with Woods: Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman.

After the resurgence he had in 2018, plus the experience he had to bring to a young US team – Woods is 4-1-2 in singles games over eight Ryder Cups – it would be a shocker if Woods continues to fare well plays in the coming weeks and was still from the team.

Best player of all time, "Fury called him on Wednesday," He was challenging this year and has pushed the scoreboard up, which was a lot of fun. "

Furyk, this week's first two rounds played with Finau and Schauffele, vowing to keep a close eye on their opponents during the last year of the year

"I have three or four weeks before I have to make that choice," Furyk said before turning to Woods. "So trying to interpret whether he did enough or did not do enough is … a position I do not have to empathize with right now. But it's fun to fit into the mix and it's a very good place at # 20 (list) with very few events.

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