Tiger Woods put himself firmly in contention for a place in the Ryder Cup squad in a playing capacity after an impressive showing at the final major of the year — the US PGA Championships — at the Bellerive Country Club, St Louis, Missouri. Team captain Jim Furyk admitted it will be difficult to leave the former world number one out of the squad.

Brooks Koepka won his second major of the year on Sunday after capturing the US Open earlier in the year and is leading the line for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. His win confirmed the eight automatic qualifiers, which includes the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thompson, Jordan Spieth, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler, who is the only non-major winner among the eight.

Woods had to win to make it into the automatic qualifiers, but fell just short despite making a final day charge with a round of 6-under 64 — his best in a final round of a major. The score of 14-under for the tournament was enough to give him outright second place, which vaulted him up to 11 in the Ryder Cup qualifying table.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Furyk admitted that leaving the 14-time major champion out of the team when he makes his four captain’s picks will be difficult. Woods has already been chosen as one of the vice-captains of the team ahead of the tournament at Le Golf National in Paris, but is keen to be part of the team in a playing capacity.

Woods, who only returned to competitive golf at the start of the year after almost two years on the sidelines with a back injury, has impressed in recent months. Apart from his second place finish at the US PGA Championships, he also finished tied-sixth at the The Open last month.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods (L) and Phil Mickelson (R) are in contention for a place in the U.S. Ryder Cup team. In this picture, Woods and Mickelson of the United States talk on the 11th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2018, in Augusta, Georgia. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

"He's the guy who can just will himself to play good golf," Furyk told BBC Sport. "I realize that right now we are here to celebrate the top eight players, but he's hard to ignore.”

"He's played very good golf and obviously put himself in a very good position for a captain's pick."

The captain’s first three picks will be announced on Sept. 4, while the final pick will be announced two weeks before the tournament commences on Sept. 10. There is no doubt that Woods is in contention for a playing position, but it remains to be seen if he will also be retained as one of Furyk’s right-hand men at the tournament.

"It is something I will discuss with Tiger and the other vice captains, what's best for the team,” the captain added. "And we've kind of talked about that all year, what's best for Tiger, what's best for the team and we'll make that decision together and we'll move on.”

"Either way, when you look at Tiger Woods as a player, as a vice captain, no matter what tag you put on that role, he's a huge asset to the team."

Another player, a Ryder Cup veteran, who did not make it into the automatic list, is Phil Mickelson. He has been an integral part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team since 1995 and Furyk admitted leaving the five-time major champion will also be difficult along with Woods.

"They bring a lot to the team room, both those players as leaders," Furyk said. "They can be the calm in the midst of a storm.”

"How difficult would it be to leave them out? It would be difficult."