Steve Stricker has been named as the United States captain for the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in his home state of Wisconsin.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things you may not know about the 51-year-old American.
Stricker won his first two PGA Tour events in 1996 but had to wait until 2001 for his next victory. In 1997 he was paired with Tiger Woods for the first time in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and later recalled: “Several times I would really connect with a drive only to be stunned to see that Tiger’s ball had landed 40 to 50 yards beyond mine. After the first round had ended, I told Nicki, my wife and caddie, what I had been thinking since the moment we left the course: ‘I can’t compete with that type of game. I just can’t compete with that.’ My round with Tiger made me introspective, and for the first time I began to doubt myself.”
Stricker was in line to be captain at Hazeltine in 2016, but everything changed in the wake of the heavy defeat at Gleneagles in 2014 and Phil Mickelson’s public criticism of captain Tom Watson – who was sat just a few feet away – in the post-event press conference. Stricker was part of the “Task Force” assembled to examine the USA’s poor recent record and 2012 captain Davis Love was subsequently given a second chance at Hazeltine.
Thankfully that is not down to posing in a “Calendar Girls” style racy calendar of nearly-naked golf professionals, but rather because of his habit of producing the goods at the end of the PGA Tour season in September. Between 2007 and 2010, Stricker was the only player to complete all 64 rounds in the Fedex Cup and in those 16 tournaments only finished outside the top 20 twice.
Stricker is the only player to have been named the PGA Tour’s comeback player-of-the-year award two years in a row. After losing his card in 2004, Stricker was playing on sponsors invites in 2006 when he recorded seven top-10 finishes and won the award for the first time. He claimed it in 2007 as well after winning his fourth PGA Tour title and ending an 11-year victory drought on American soil. Woods told him: “Well, Strick, you have now set a record that no-one, including me, will ever equal.”
Despite making his debut at Valhalla in 2008 in a comfortable win for the home side, Stricker won just half a point from his three matches. Two years later he partnered Tiger Woods to two wins from three matches and also beat Lee Westwood in the opening singles at Celtic Manor. On his last appearance in 2012 Stricker lost all three matches with Woods and his defeat to Martin Kaymer ensured Europe would retain the trophy.