NEW YORK (AFP) – Steve Stricker will captain the United States (US) 2020 Ryder Cup team, vowing on Wednesday to do everything he can to help the Americans regain the coveted trophy from Europe.
Stricker, 51, becomes the first US Ryder Cup captain never to have won a major championship.
But 14-time major winner Tiger Woods lauded the appointment, saying Stricker was “the overwhelming choice” of the selection committee on which Woods himself served.
Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America President Suzy Whaley confirmed the appointment at a press conference with Stricker in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Stricker’s home state where the 2020 Ryder Cup will be held at Whistling Straits.
“I’m very passionate about this competition,” an emotional Stricker said. “We want to win this more than ever. I want to help any way I can.”
The Americans were routed 17 1/2-10 1/2 last September in France. The Europeans have won four of the past five editions of the biennial match-play showdown.
Stricker, who won three, lost seven and halved one in three Ryder Cups as a player, was a member of the 2014 task force that revamped the US Ryder Cup programme and has served as a vice-captain for the past three editions.
He served as the 2017 Presidents Cup captain when the hosts won over an International side at Liberty National.
Stricker said he was confident the US team could bounce back from their thrashing in France last year.
“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.
“Europe’s talent will present a great challenge, but we will be focussed 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.”
Whaley praised Stricker’s “wonderful ability to connect with players of all ages”.
Woods, speaking in Mexico City where he was preparing for the start of the World Golf Championship (WGC)-Mexico Championship, said Stricker’s ability to communicate with players was just one of his many qualifications for the job.
“What he has done as the leader both in the Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups has been tremendous and we just thought that with his leadership and the way the guys follow Stricks, that he would be the best captain there is for 2020,” Woods said.
“The players were unanimous, they wanted him on as their team leader and we felt the same way on the committee.
“Everyone knows he’s such a nice guy but beneath all of that exterior is this fieriness and competitiveness, and he’s also one of the more detail-oriented guys that we know of.
“He’s very good at communicating with the guys, getting their opinions but putting his foot down when he has to.”
Stricker’s first move as skipper was to name Jim Furyk, who captained the US team in France, as one of his assistants.
The system by which players earn the eight automatic berths on the team will remain the same, but in one change to team selection announced on Wednesday, Stricker will announce all four of his captain’s selections on September 1, 2020, immediately after the US PGA Tour Championship.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington was named European captain last month. He is a three-time major champion who won nine, lost 13 and halved one in six Ryder Cups from 1999-2010 and was an assistant on Europe’s past three teams.