Steve Stricker Backed to Succeed as Ryder Cup Captain
AMERICAN Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker has received a ringing endorsement of his crerdentials from 14-time major champion Tiger Woods. Woods has revealed that Stricker was the unanimous choice to captain the United States in the 2020 Ryder Cup and has backed his former partner to bring passion and preparation to the role.
Stricker, who lives near the host venue of Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, has been handed the task of regaining the trophy after last year’s heavy defeat to Europe in France. The 52-year-old was a vice-captain to Jim Furyk at Le Golf National and the roles will be reversed next year, with Stricker wasting no time in starting to assemble his backroom staff. He is the first non-major winner to be given the honour and also has a dreadful playing record in the event.
Woods will expect to be playing rather than assisting from the sidelines following his resurgence.“The players were unanimous and we felt the same way on the (Ryder Cup) committee,” said Woods, who lost all three of his matches with Stricker on the latter’s final playing appearance at Medinah in 2012.
“All of us felt that it was his time, he was deserving. What he has done as a leader both in the Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups has been tremendous and we just thought that with the way the guys follow Stricks he would be the best captain there is for 2020. “Everyone knows he’s such a nice guy but beneath all of that is this fieriness and competitiveness and he’s also one of the more detail-oriented guys that we know of.
“He’ll be prepared, he’ll be understanding and is very good at communicating with the players and getting their opinions but also putting his foot down when he has to.”
Stricker, who captained the United States to Presidents Cup victory in 2017, is a favourite with the players and revealed that he has already spoken to Patrick Reed after his comments following the defeat in Paris, the Masters champion blaming Jordan Spieth for the end of their successful partnership and claiming it was “not smart” of Furyk to leave him out of two sessions.
“As far as he’s concerned and I am too it has been handled, he’s apologised and spoke to the players,” added Stricker. “I asked him what to expect and he’s like ‘I’ve got your back, I’m there for the team.’ He’s very committed, he didn’t like how that all transpired in Paris but we’re about moving on and going forward and I hope to have him as part of this team if he’s playing well.
“I’m not afraid to speak up now it seems like the older I’ve got. I listen to everybody and if I have to make a tough decision, I will. I’m comfortable with that and I realise it rests on the captain’s shoulders, otherwise I wouldn’t be so excited to do this job. Some people don’t think I’m very fiery about playing the game of golf but deep down I’m very competitive, we want to win this more than ever and I’m here to help in any way.
“While we were disappointed with the result in Paris, I am confident the setback will fuel our preparations for what will take place at Whistling Straits. It stung last year after winning at Hazeltine so the guys are fired up. They’re ready already to try to get it back and we’re looking forward to it.
“Europe’s talent will present a great challenge but we will be focused on what we can accomplish together in 2020 in my home state, in front of a loyal legion of sports fans in Wisconsin. It’s going to be a memorable week.”
Stricker will announce all four of his wild cards at the same time, two days after the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Last year Furyk selected three of his wild cards on September 4 and his final one six days later.
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