Steve Stricker, who oversaw one of the most lopsided U.S. victories in Presidents Cup history two years ago outside of New York, is hoping to reprise that success after the PGA of America officially introduced him as captain of the 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup team on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
Stricker, who turns 52 on Saturday, will be the first American captain without a major championship on his résumé. Nevertheless, his selection had been widely anticipated for months with the 43rd Ryder Cup slated for Whistling Straits in Stricker’s home state of Wisconsin. The Madison, Wis., resident also is the first man to serve as Presidents Cup captain before leading Team USA in the Ryder Cup.
The lack of a major was no hindrance to Thomas Bjorn or Paul McGinley, the last two European Ryder Cup captains. Last year at Le Golf National in France, Bjorn captained Europe to a 17½-10½ victory, while in 2014 McGinley’s squad pasted the Americans, 16½-11½, at Gleneagles in Scotland—two of America’s worst defeats in history. Stricker was an assistant captain on both of those U.S. teams as well as under Davis Love III in 2016 at Hazeltine National, where the U.S. posted its only win in the last five meetings.
The amiable Stricker, one of the game’s most respected figures, was a member of the 11-person U.S. Ryder Cup Task Force convened by PGA of America president Ted Bishop in the wake of the 2014 loss under Tom Watson. Phil Mickelson’s open criticism of Watson in the immediate aftermath was the catalyst for the task force and the succeeding Ryder Cup Committee that selects the captain.
As a player, Stricker went 3-7-1 in three Ryder Cup appearances in 2008, 2010 and 2012. He has played on five Presidents Cup teams, going 14-10, including a 4-0 record partnering with Tiger Woods in the 2009 matches at Harding Park in San Francisco. A 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, Stricker will be an assistant captain under Woods at the Presidents Cup in December in Australia.
“Stricks was an incredible leader in 2017, and I took a lot away from the way he served as captain that I hope to emulate in Melbourne,” Woods said earlier this month after announcing Stricker, Zach Johnson and Fred Couples as assistants. “We have always shared a high level of trust and mutual respect.”
In 2017, at New Jersey’s Liberty National Golf Club, Stricker’s Presidents Cup squad nearly pulled off an unprecedented achievement, scoring 14½ points in team formats and coming within a half-point of retaining the cup before Sunday singles. The U.S. went on to beat Nick Price’s International team, 19-11.
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, 47, of Ireland, last month was introduced as captain of Team Europe.
America leads the biennial series 26-14-2, but since players from continental Europe were infused into the Great Britain and Ireland side in 1979, the European Team is 11-8-1 and has won seven of the last nine meetings.
The 43rd Ryder Cup is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at the Straits Course at Whistling Straits. The Pete Dye-designed course has served as the venue for three PGA Championships, most recently in 2015 won by Jason Day. It also hosted the 2007 U.S. Senior Open.