SHEYBOYGAN, Wis. – Captain of the Ryder Cup in the United States Steve Stricker is a crier. It is well enough known that he gets considerable, amiable grief over it. You could have made money if you had signed the bets when the tears would start flowing during his opening ceremony.
He’s one of the good guys at golf, a player who worked hard to win 12 times at the PGA Tour. He is such a good putter that he has usually consulted others.
But beneath the cute exterior is a fierce rival. It is known that Stricker is tough on himself and himself. He’s on fire. And as for the Ryder Cup, he has been hardened by some formidable losses.
Stricker played on the losing teams in 2010 and 2012, the latter being a breathtaking American defeat during which he lost 0-4 in a one-point American loss, with the Europeans down four points on the final day.
After a final turn as a player at the 2013 President’s Cup, Stricker took everything behind the scenes. He was a Ryder Cup assistant in 2014 Tom Watson‘s captaincy has been widely expanded. He was there for the Ryder Cup victory in 2016 and the loss in 2018. But he was also the head of a winning Presidential Cup team in 2017 and helped Tiger Woods‘victory in 2019.
In other words, Stricker has seen a lot. Most importantly, he took up considerable knowledge, both good and bad, and figured out what not to do.
And along the way, he oversaw the transformation of the American team, one that after a record victory 19-9 Sunday on Whistling Straits behind six newcomers and three others who have played just once in the Ryder Cup. Even Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau embracing afterwards, saying something.
“I woke up this morning and said to the guys, ‘Let’s get 20 points,'” he said. Patrick Cantlay, who appeared 4-0 as a rookie, the best American appearance ever Larry Nelson in 1979. “Because it’s going to be the next era of guys for the US”
Record record or not, Cantlay is correct. A solid core players will give the US a tremendous chance for the upcoming captaincy of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods and others who may be in the mix to lead American teams.
“I learned a lot,” Stricker said. “I learned what worked and what didn’t. [I] I’ve thought a lot about this over the last few years and try to do everything right to give these guys a great experience and hopefully come out the best.
One of the most important things Stricker picked up from the significant negativity surrounding the American fortunes in the Ryder Cup: Youth is better than experience; It is important to find players who fit the golf course; and the addition of those who form into specific partnerships is far more important than who necessarily plays best.
Therefore, Stricker has had no problems bringing the most newcomers to the Ryder Cup since the 2008 team that also won. It happened to be Stricker’s first Ryder Cup player.
That’s why he wanted guys Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler and Harris Engels, long hits that were well suited for Whistling Straits — and perhaps better fit than previously strong Ryder Cup players, such as Patrick Reed or Webb Simpson, which was not selected.
Scheffler was also a capable partner for DeChambeau, a major talking point in the matches. all the controversy that DeChambeau has been following lately. And Stricker stuck with the partnerships he expected to be good at, like Cantlay-Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson–Collin Morikawa.
Perhaps the best thing the Americans can get out of this is how bright things look. Although there are never any guarantees at the Ryder Cup, the future looks incredibly promising.
Schauffele, Cantlay, Morikawa, Koepka, Finau, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth must be pillars of support for many years. That does not include DeChambeau, who brings his own intrigue to the competition and – as he showed on Sunday by drive the first green – can be a great asset in the right circumstances. And there is no reason to believe that Johnson – who was 5-0 – will soon decline.
Then you look at Europe, with an incredible race that saw the team win nine of the previous 12 Ryder Cup competitions. All of a sudden, it shows some vulnerability. The team has relied for years on a succession of stalwarts, such as See Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie, to whom the government has surrendered Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter and Justin got up and many others.
But Westwood (48), Poulter (45) and Paul Casey, 44, almost certainly played in their last Ryder Cup. Rose was not even selected for this year’s team. Sergio Garcia, although it is still incredibly viable, it is 41. Henrik Stenson did not make the team.
It is telling that in 11 of the 12 singles matches on Sunday, the USA had the player with the highest position. And in the one that did not, Scheffler defeated the No. 1 position Jon Rahm.
There are still Rory McIlroy, who this time had a weak Ryder Cup, but is only 32. And Rahm should be a force for years. Same with Viktor Hovland. Tommy Fleetwood it 4-0 with Francesco Molinari three years ago in Paris, but was not at his game this week. Shane Lowry gained valuable experience.
However, this is not the same kind of firepower as the American team. And it does not contain possible future additions like Sam Burns, Sal Zalatoris and Matthew Wolff, as well as perhaps the return of Reed.
“The American team, there’s a phenomenal talent in the team,” said McIlroy, who lost in just six tries to just two European teams. ‘And I think the most important thing for the American team is a lot of young guys who bought in good players in the Ryder Cup. I think it was probably missing in previous generations.
“But guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, you know, the heartbeat of the American team, they really got involved in the team aspect of Ryder Cups, Presidents Cups. And with guys like that in the team, yes, they’re going to be around from now on to be a formidable opposition until I probably do not play Ryder Cups, hopefully in 20 years. ”
A dominant performance by @RyderCupUSA! I can not wait to see and celebrate with you all! Congratulations to all the players, vice-captains and of course captain @stevestricker. pic.twitter.com/Xc0AsFzet2
– Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) 26 September 2021
Stricker was there in the cold night in Scotland seven years ago when Mickelson had shocking criticism of Watson’s captaincy at Gleneagles in front of the legendary eight-time grand champion. Mickelson has since apologized to Watson and maintained he went too far. But the impact was still felt.
Mickelson and many others associated with the American Ryder Cup effort are becoming increasingly irritated by the lack of a voice and the numerous commitments. They wanted a system to develop assistants and captains and a more joint effort.
A task force was very ridiculously formed, but it generally worked. Stricker is a product of it. He was part of all these teams. Maybe there was too much comfort after a 17-11 American victory at Hazeltine five years ago.
With Spieth, Koepka and Johnson, the team showed a lot of promise. And yet they were the only ones in Wisconsin, with several players, including Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar – everyone closer or at the end of their Ryder Cup race and Reed is not selected this time.
“I think [the task force] worked, ” Stricker said. “We’re still learning. And sometimes, to be honest, it’s just the other team playing well and you can do nothing about it. And there are times that the captain did everything right. I saw it too, and the players … we just did not get it right on the court.
“I think we’re constantly learning as we keep playing it, and we’ll learn even more this week.”
Following? Learn to win on the road. When the Americans arrive in Rome in 2023, it will be 30 years since their last victory in Europe.
‘We had to win this one, and I think it was a big step for this team and the group that we have here, who really know each other since they were almost back to primary school, to try and work hard. teams to go there, ‘Spieth said. It’s one thing to win it here, and it’s a lot easier to do it, and it’s harder to win there.
“If we play like this week, the score will look the same in a few years. That’s what we’re here for.”
If Stricker is there, it will be in the background, but his voice carries a lot of weight.
“This is a new era for golf in the United States,” Stricker said.
He was in tears, of course.