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Monday 10 December 2018

Furyk denies Tiger has back injury after USA suffer afternoon backlash

USA captain Jim Furyk with Tiger Woods
USA captain Jim Furyk with Tiger Woods
Patrick Reed

United States Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has dismissed claims Tiger Woods is suffering with a back problem.

The 14-time major winner, playing alongside Patrick Reed, was beaten 3&1 by Europe's top-performing Friday pair of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood and did not feature in the afternoon foursomes.

That led to speculation that Woods, 42, who has made a remarkable comeback to form following spinal fusion surgery, was being troubled by an old complaint.

But Furyk, who's put Woods out with Reed in today's fourball pairings- once again against Molinari and Fleetwood - rejected those claims.

"I have not heard that he has had a back problem so I would say that is not true. You'd have to ask Tiger," he said.

"I saw him out on the golf course and he was all good. Every time Tiger doesn't play or stretches a bit it gets hyper- sensitive that he may have a back issue but I didn't get any information from Tiger or my vice-captains."

Woods did not speak about his fitness but insisted he was ready to play again when he was selected.

"I'll be ready come tomorrow whenever the captain puts me out," he said.

"My game is fine. My putting feels solid." On their struggles against the European duo the former world No.1 added: "We couldn't answer them. Once they started rattling off birdies,they were playing perfect best-ball.

"It's disappointing and frustrating for Pat and I to not contribute to the team.

Meanwhile, Furyk predicted that his side would bounce back as Europe gained the upper hand.

"I think our guys will respond" he said. "I have a lot of confidence in this team. We'll come back tomorrow, and I bet we'll be fine.

"We got the momentum in the morning, out 3-1. Europe flipped it quickly and got some unbelievable momentum in the afternoon for 4-0. So two totally different sides.

"We've played for eight points so far out of 28. The event's still pretty young. We've got one more team format tomorrow and then the singles. Eight out of 28, a pretty small percentage of this tournament has been played."

Furyk has kept faith with his fourball pairings for today - giving Woods and Reed the chance for revenge against Molinari and Fleetwood - but admitted he would need to "shore up" his foursomes line-up.

Friday's four pairs were a combined 11 over par in the windy conditions compared to four under by Europe.

Furyk defended his decision to play Phil Mickelson in foursomes alongside rookie Bryson DeChambeau, despite Mickelson ranking 192nd out of 193 players for driving accuracy on the PGA Tour.

"He's got a lot of experience," Furyk said of the five-time major winner.

"Most experienced Ryder Cup player of all time. I have so much confidence in Phil in his ability to take a young player like Bryson and help him out again."

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