US Ryder Cup chiefs name Steve Stricker as captain for 2020
It was sent home humbled and in disarray after a heavy defeat by Europe in Paris, but the US Ryder Cup set-up has moved to avenge the loss by appointing Steve Stricker as captain.
The 51-year-old, a non-playing vice-captain to Jim Furyk in the 17.5-10.5 defeat at Le Golf National in September, will lead a new-look US side against Europe and its new skipper Padraig Harrington at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin in 2020.
Stricker appeared in three Ryder Cups as a player, winning at Valhalla in 2008, before losing both in 2010 at Celtic Manor and in 2012 at Medinah.
“Truly, it’s a dream come true and an honor to represent the PGA,” Stricker told a news conference in Milwaukee.
“Truly a dream come true, an honour to represent the PGA, the competition itself, truly humbled by this opportunity because I’m very passionate about this competition.
“We want to win this more than ever and I’m here to help in any way I can.”
The appointment of Stricker, a Wisconsin native, comes as little surprise.
The former world No.2 is viewed as a popular figure within the game and well placed to get the best out of close friend Tiger Woods, who was out of sorts in Paris despite having just won the Tour Championship for his first title in five years.
One of Stricker’s main tasks will be to unite a team that left France under a cloud after claims of discord from Patrick Reed and rumors of a bust-up between Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.
Stricker, who served as a vice-captain to Davis Love III when the US comfortably beat Europe at Hazeltine in 2016, wasted no time in naming Furyk as his first vice-captain.
The 12-time winner on the PGA Tour further boosted his credentials for the role when he captained Team USA to a 19-11 win over Nick Price’s international team at the 2017 Presidents Cup in New Jersey.
Stricker, the first US captain without a major title, will also act as vice-captain to his Woods at the 2019 Presidents Cup event in Melbourne in December.
Speaking to the media ahead of Thursday’s World Golf Championship event in Mexico, Woods said of Stricker: “He was the overwhelming choice by all of us on the committee.
“All of us felt it was his time, he was deserving, what he has done as a vice-captain in the Ryder Cup and captain in the Presidents Cup has been tremendous and we just thought with his leadership and the way the guys follow Stricks he would be the best captain there is for 2020, and the players were unanimous and want him as their team leader.
“Everyone knows he is such a nice guy but beneath that is this fieriness and competitiveness and he is one of the most detail-oriented guys we know of. He’ll be understanding and is very good at communicating with the players and getting their opinion but good at putting his foot down when he has to.”
When the Ryder Cup gets under way on September 25 next year, Stricker will be looking to arrest the US team’s losing streak of seven losses in the last nine events.
Not since 1959, when the tournament was contested by the US and Great Britain, has the American team regained the trophy at the first time of asking after losing the previous contest.
However, a good omen for Stricker is that both of his country’s victories since 2000 have come in the US.