Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2023 Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy

With the first major of the 2018 season -- the Masters -- in the books, there was some serious movement in the latest Ryder Cup USA points standings.

In the majors this year, double points are awarded to the winner for every $1,000 earned, while everyone else earns a point and a half for every thousand earned.

Thanks to his first major victory, Patrick Reed soared to the top of the U.S. standings, with Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth not far behind.

RELATED: Current Ryder Cup USA points standings | Ryder Cup implications from Masters

We tracked down Ryder Cup USA Jim Furyk, who is in Hilton Head to make his fifth start of the season this week, to talk Masters, Ryder Cup and more in this latest Q&A. As the Ryder Cup USA captain, you had to love what you saw at the Masters -- especially on Sunday. It wasn't just Patrick Reed, but the charges by Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler and even Bubba Watson late.

FURYK: What an exciting day, wasn't it? At the Masters you always expect a thrill on the back nine and this one didn't let us down in that regard. You always have someone trying to hold on, while someone else is going low. 

The margin of error for birdies and bogeys is so small. You can get it going, but there's always trouble lurking, especially on 11, 12, 13 and 15 where water comes into play. Double bogeys aren't hard to come by and we saw that. 

Patrick was tremendous and solidified his spot on the team. It's probably that way for several guys now, but we'll see how it all plays out.

Rickie played great. That birdie on 18 put some pressure on the other contenders. And that was a fantastic run by Jordan with the 64. Bubba's already got two wins this season and he had another good Masters. It's nice to see those guys in a really good position right now. What is it about Reed -- having been around him in team events this last several years -- that allows him to elevate his game in such pressure situations?

FURYK: It's clear that he enjoys the pressure and he embraces it. Most of the guys on that level, they want the ball in their hands, so to speak, when the heat is on. You want to have a situation to test yourself mentally and physically. 

Having been around Patrick now for a couple of Ryder Cups and a couple of Presidents Cups, it's clear that he takes all that enjoyment from being in a pressure situation to the next level. He thrives on it. 

It's hard not to get excited for a Ryder Cup. Everyone does, but Patrick has the ability to handle the atmosphere so well. He really enjoys representing his country and having that Ryder Cup USA shield on his chest. 

With as well as he's handled all that, I wasn't surprised that he handled Sunday so well. Stroke play is obviously a different animal, but were you as excited as everyone else to see the Reed/Rory McIlroy final pairing on Sunday?

FURYK: Well, I thought it was built up too much as a two-man race. Things can change in a hurry at Augusta National.

But as for the pairing, yes. I was looking forward to it. I think there was a little jockeying going on Saturday night. Rory was putting the ball in Patrick's court by saying the pressure was on Patrick since he's never been in that spot before and Rory has won majors.

Patrick countered with saying the pressure was all on Rory because he was trying to complete the career grand slam.

That banter was fun to listen to. But they both respect the heck out of each other on the course. They're phenomenal competitors. 

It's not easy sitting on a lead. Patrick handled it beautifully. Anytime there was even a little adversity, he bounced right back. That two-putt on 17 was special. On the flip side, you had Jon Rahm, Rory, Stenson, Rose, Casey and Fleetwood -- all likely members of the European side -- in the mix. People can't be overlooking the Europeans, right?

FURYK: There's so many good players on either side. Look at the top 20 in the world rankings right now. Fifteen of them are either American or European. 

Because of that, it's not a surprise that you saw players on both sides playing so well in one of the grandest events. That's going to happen a lot in the months ahead.

I fully expect the Europeans to be at their best when we get to France. The four current major champions are all Americans and all 27 or younger. What do you think of how these young guys are just coming out and doing the kinds of things you wouldn't expect to happen so soon? 

FURYK: That's pretty cool. It really is. We're seeing these young players come out and they're ready not just to compete, but to win on the biggest stage. 

It's great for golf. They're carrying the torch for golf. How are you feeling now -- health-wise -- with four starts under your belt? It had to be nice to have that seventh-place showing in Tampa.

FURYK: The health is better than it's been. I'm still working on some physical rehab to get back to 100 percent. I feel like I'm working toward that. This last little bit to get back to 100 percent has been harder to get to. 

It's like breaking 80 is easier than breaking 70 than breaking 60, you know? I need to get stronger physically and with my game. But I'm getting stronger and it's fun to play golf again. Congratulations on your recent Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ouimet Foundation. What was that evening was like?

FURYK: It's always an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as folks who have won that award before me. The Ouimet Foiundation does wonderful things. It's raised $34 million over its history, and $2 million this year. It gives young folks around the game the opportunity to gain some money for a scholarships. 

I tink its largest scholarship fund independently run in the northeast. Being a 'lifetime achievement award winner' is a reminder that I'm not a spring chicken anymore. It was a fun evening and I'm glad I was able to have Tabitha and my kids there with me. 

It was also cool that, in my honor, I was able to name a scholarship for the foundation. So, I named it the Mike and Linda Furyk Scholarship to honor my parents. It was a cool night. Lastly, you talked earlier this year about getting potential team members together for a dinner possibly at your house during Players week. Is that still in the cards?

FURYK: I'd like to get the folks who can make it together, for sure. It'd be easy to host a dinner, chat and go over things. It's more for a little fun and camaraderie and some housekeeping details for this season -- what they can expect from me this year and so forth. It's been done in the past and I think it's a good idea to get everyone on the same page. 


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