Tiger Woods back Steve Stricker to lead Team USA to Ryder Cup glory in 2020February 21, 2019
Stricker admitted he was worried his failure to win a Major might count against him – he is the first USA captain without one on his CV.
While the USA's disastrous performance last year also threatened to derail his bid.
But close pal Woods says Stricker's laid-back exterior masks a fearsome competitor.
Woods explained: “Steve was the overwhelming choice by all of us on the committee. All of us felt that it was his time, and that 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.
“The players were unanimous and we felt the same way on the committee. 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. He is very good at communicating with the players and getting their opinions – but is also more than capable of putting his foot down when he has to.”
The feeling appears to be mutual, with Stricker responding to questions about Woods’ potential appearance in 2020 with: “Who wouldn’t want him on your team?”
Stricker’s first job as US Ryder Cup captain was making sure Masters champion Patrick Reed will not prove a loose cannon again.
Reed, dubbed Captain America after starring in his two previous Ryder cup appearances, was at the centre of the in-fighting that erupted as the Yanks were thrashed 17 ½ – 10 ½ in Paris last year.
He complained about not being consulted before his successful partnership with Jordan Spieth was broken up, and blasted captain Jim Furyk for making him sit out two sessions.
At least the notorious hothead did not take things as far as team-mates Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, who ended up scrapping in the European team room!
As expected, Stricker, 51, was yesterday unveiled as the man who will lead the revenge mission at Whistling Straits in his home state of Wisconsin next year. And his first call was to Reed.
Stricker explained: “That was definitely on my to-do list, and I’ve already reached out to Patrick. We had a good conversation, and I think we were both a bit disappointed at how it all played out.
“As far as we are concerned the matter has been dealt with. Pattrick has spoken to the other players, he’s apologised. He told me he will be there for me, and he will have the other guys backs if he makes the team.
“He wasn’t comfortable with what happened in Paris, but he wasn’t happy with how it all came out. We are moving forward now, and if he’s playing well I want him to be part of the team in 2020.”
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