It's hard to believe, but we're quickly creeping in on one year before the playing of the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris at Le Golf National where, for the first time since 2008, the U.S. will be defending the Ryder Cup Trophy.
With the 2017 majors, World Golf Championships and Players in the books, plenty of points have been collected for the U.S. hopefuls, with U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka, PGA Champion Justin Thomas and Open Champion Jordan Spieth occupying the top three spots, respectively.
The next big thing on the Ryder Cup calendar is this fall when the Year-Out Celebration takes place in Paris.
Before all that, we had a chat with U.S. Captain Jim Furyk to talk about the major season that was, his own personal health, Ryder Cup and more.
FURYK: I got the results back from a MRI. I tweaked my sternoclavicular joint -- or "SC joint" -- and I'm receiving treatment. I'll take a few weeks off and then hopefully return to competitive golf in a couple months.
PGA.com: We heard a lot of talk at Quail Hollow about how difficult the course played. What did you find to be most difficult and can you compare it to any majors you've previously played in?
FURYK: I think what made it so difficult is that we don't play a lot of majors on that type of grass -- that type of Bermuda. Maybe just Southern Hills? Kiawah is more like a paspalum.
We tend to play a lot of U.S. Opens and PGA Championships in the midwest and northeast on bent-grass and some Poa. It's a different outlook. We'll probably see that change with the PGA moving to May. We'll have more chances to play southern venues.
But to answer the question about what made Quail Hollow so difficult -- it was long. Very long. That's the first thing that comes to mind. The rough was penal. It's a tough course by nature, but with all the rain early in the week, it kind of took a significant chunk of players out of the game, more so than we typically see at a major. It started to firm up a little on Friday afternoon, but then the rain came and softened it up a little, which was good for the bombers on a course that I don't think is typically characterized as a bomber's course. It was really the weather pattern that changed things.
The new holes were extremely difficult. The greens, by design, are very severe. It was just so tough to get the ball close.
PGA.com: One of your playing partners for the first two rounds was Kevin Kisner, the 54-hole leader who finished T7. You watched him fire back-to-back 4-under 67s. Why was he so successful?
FURYK: I've known Kevin's game real well for some time now. I didn't need to play alongside him, but it was really nice. I know he wants to be on the Ryder Cup team. Kevin -- he has a very solid game. His strength is that there aren't many weaknesses.
He's a strong driver of the ball. He's adequately long and very accurate. When he made any mistakes, he putted real well from 10 feet and in. Let me tell you, lag putting from 40-60 feet on those greens isn't easy. It was so hard to get those putts up to 3-4 feet. Kevin did such a nice job of knocking down those 6-8 footers he left himself for pars. Those keep a round together.
PGA.com: Young Americans -- Koepka, Spieth and Thomas -- have won each of the last three majors. How encouraging is that to you?
FURYK: Yes. The young Americans are playing very well. I look at Jordan and I look at Brooks and Justin. Brooks already has international experience, Jordan's got a lot of it. And Justin has been playing great. But, I look at Jordan as more of a veteran and a peer. He's played on a couple of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams now and he's obviously done what he's done in majors.
Justin was close to qualifying last year. He was a possible captain's pick. Last week was his fourth win this season. It was great to see him play well. It's been an unbelievable season; player of the year type stuff. We'll see what he does in the Playoffs, but since so many guys are playing so well, it's hard to believe he's not already a lock for Player of the Year.
It's pretty funny. When I had my presser at the PGA, I knew I was going to talk about the form of the American players and how we've had high finishes -- the majors we just talked about, Dustin Johnson taking two World Golf Championships. A bunch of top-10 finishes. It's a good problem to have as the captain. I want to see the guys in good form. I feel like that's got to be the best problem to have -- not even worrying about who to sit and when because everyone is playing so well.
That's a problem I would just love to have. I'll tell you one thing -- it's a lot better talking about how well they're playing instead of how they're struggling. If we were on the flipside, I'd be telling you, "It's not a big deal. The Ryder Cup is next year."
It sure is nice to see them playing well, though.
PGA.com: What did you think on Sunday when Rickie Fowler, Bud Cauley and Spieth waited behind the 18th green to congratulate Thomas? It seems to be a trend we're seeing with the younger guys.
FURYK: I think it's a great gesture. A lot of times, guys are trying to get out of dodge quick to get home to the family. But there's a lot of younger guys that don't have a flight that night, or a family to get back to yet, and maybe they're having a soda or a beer in the clubhouse when they finish to see how the tournament plays out.
We put our heart and soul into it. When I'm with my family at majors, we finish and clean up and get back to get in front of a TV. There are only four a year and a big part of everyone's career. To have your buddies there to see how you finish was special for Justin, I'm sure. You don't forget those times. They have a special bond because of it.
PGA.com: You're one of Steve Stricker's vice captains for the 2017 Presidents Cup this fall. Having played that role at Hazeltine last year and in Korea the year before at the Presidents Cup when you couldn't play due to injury -- how much do you think those experiences will help you in Paris?
FURYK: Well, in those previous experiences you mentioned, I took a lot of notes. I'm sure I'll be taking a lot of notes this time around too. When you have the chance to spend that much time with guys like Jay Haas, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Davis Love III and Bubba Watson, you learn a lot. There are so many different ideas to take in.
Leading up to Hazeltine last year, Davis really gave me access to all the behind-the-scenes stuff. It was great to learn from a great captain like that. I was involved with a lot of course stuff and captain''s picks. Having all this experience as a vice captain -- along with being around a lot of the same guys that will likely be on the Ryder Cup team -- is invaluable.
PGA.com: Lastly, you have the year-out celebration coming up. How much are you looking forward to that?
FURYK: Next year will be a blur. There's a lot more to be done. When you're busy, time goes quicker and I know I'll be a lot busier next year. That's why I'm looking forward to the Year-Out. It kind of really kicks everything off.
Everyone in Paris will be really excited. It's the second time they've hosted a Ryder Cup outside the UK. The French have a flair and it'll be a celebration. I've seen the venue, hotel and accommodations. It'll be interesting to get in front of the microphone with Thomas Bjorn. I look forward to it. It'll be a first step to really getting busy. October 2017-September 2018 will be full speed ahead and I'm anxious.