ST. LOUIS -- Jim Furyk was mesmerized like everyone else at Bellerive Country Club on Sunday as Tiger Woods made a run up the leaderboard before eventually finishing second to Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship.
But Furyk, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, remained coy about whether he would choose Woods with one of his four at-large picks, saying Monday morning during a news conference to discuss the eight automatic qualifiers that he wanted to let the process play out until his first three picks are announced Sept. 4.
"I'm not sure the numbers are always that important when I look down the list," Furyk said. "What is important is how well Tiger has played. Sixth place at The Open Championship, a second place at the PGA. His game -- I think the word he used is 'trending.' His game is trending. So it's great to see him playing well.
"For me, the numbers are nice, good to look at, but not always the most important. We want the players who are going to help us be successful."
Woods made the biggest move in the final Ryder Cup standings, jumping from 20th to 11th in the points.
Furyk already knows what he has in Koepka, who has won three of the past six major championships he has played and gained valuable experience at the last Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
Could Woods also help the U.S. team in its bid to retain the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993?
"He's playing very well," Furyk said. "I think there's a lot of folks out there who probably think he can help us. ... I realize Tiger is a story. I realize he's playing very well, and I'm excited to see that."
Koepka led the list of automatic qualifiers that includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson. All but Spieth and Fowler have won this year.
Bryson DeChambeau lost out on a chance to move into the top eight when he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. Phil Mickelson, who also missed the cut, is 10th, followed by Woods, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau and Kyle Stanley.
For the first time since he made his first team in 1995, Mickelson has failed to make the team on points but, along with Woods, is expected to be an at-large selection, meaning there are really only two spots remaining.
Players have the next several weeks to make an impression. Three players will be picked following the Dell Technologies Championship, the second FedEx playoff event, on Sept. 4. The final pick will be made after the BMW Championship on Sept. 10.
"We have some big tournaments coming home," Furyk said. "We get an opportunity to see some more guys play well. Who has played well for the season is important, but the reason we put this structure into place -- 10, 12, 14 years ago, I'd be making my four captain's picks right now.
"The reason we put this system into place is to identify hot players, identify guys who are playing well right now who can help this team."
Furyk noted that the top eight already present him with some excellent pairings for the fourball and foursomes formats that are used during the first two days and account for 16 of the 28 points available.
Spieth and Reed have starred at each of the past two Ryder Cups as a team. Koepka and Johnson have paired together, as have Thomas and Fowler, who could also team with Johnson. Watson and Simpson were successful together at Medinah in 2012, although neither has won a Ryder Cup singles match.
"I still think you want to be able to weave the four captain's picks into the framework of the eight that we have, but you could pick two guys who paired very well as captain's picks as well," Furyk said.
Unlike years ago, Woods and Mickelson would be unlikely to play more than once a day, and it may come down to whether Furyk wants experience (Kuchar, Zach Johnson), new blood (Finau, Schauffele) or some combination.
Woods has said going back to February, when he was named a vice captain, that he wanted to play on the team as well. Furyk said Monday that if Woods is picked, he will add another vice captain, although he expects plenty of input from Woods regardless.
"He priceless, to be honest with you," Furyk said. "He's been really a big help to our captains in both 2016 and 2017 from a strategy perspective, from personnel, personalities, and also really serving on the golf course. I mean, walking with players. I think it's been a big boost having the best player maybe to ever live following your group and being there for support.
"So he's a huge value and someone -- I rely on every vice captain heavily. With Davis Love serving as a captain twice and Steve Stricker being our Presidents Cup captain last year, they intimately know these players and know them very well. So to have them there is great. But Tiger serves that purpose as a vice captain or a player and [we're] looking forward to having his help."