Stricker hopes to captain US Ryder Cup team in 2020
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Though he'll have to wait his turn, it appears Steve Stricker of Madison is being groomed for the role of U.S. Ryder Cup captain—possibly for the 2020 matches at Whistling Straits in Haven.
U.S. captains have been heavily scrutinized in recent years, with the Americans losing six of the last seven matches—and eight of the last 10—to their European counterparts in the biennial team competition.
But Stricker said he would welcome the challenge if asked to lead the U.S. by the PGA of America.
“Oh, yeah, I would love to do it someday, but I don't know if it's going to happen,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It would be an honor. You look at the list of captains and it's a great list.”
Stricker, who turns 48 on Monday, would seem to be a strong candidate to captain the U.S. team in his home state.
The 12-time PGA Tour winner is universally respected by his peers and is highly regarded by the PGA of America, which named him to an 11-member task force charged with examining the entire Ryder Cup process and recommending changes to help reverse the string of losses.
“We've talked about a lot of things,” Stricker said. “We've talked about the process of picking a captain and vice captains. We've talked about during the week (of competition), what should happen as far as practice. We've talked about everything.
“It's good to have these talks with the PGA. The committee and the players are committed. I think it's been productive.”
The task force was created in the wake of the Americans' 16½-11½ loss to the Europeans at the 40th Ryder Cup in September, after which team member Phil Mickelson was openly critical of captain Tom Watson's leadership.
Stricker was one of Watson's assistant captains and also played on three Ryder Cup teams, compiling a 3-7-1 record.
Davis Love III is expected to be named captain next week for the 2016 matches at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. Love was captain in 2012, when the Americans lost in heartbreaking fashion at Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago.
The 2018 Ryder Cup will be held at Le Golf National on the outskirts of Paris, then returns to the United States two years later for the matches at Whistling Straits.
Stricker would be 53, considered an ideal age for Ryder Cup captaincy, and would have the honor of leading the U.S. team in his home state.
“He has such a great calming influence on everybody,” U.S. team member Hunter Mahan said before the matches last year.
The only thing that would appear to be holding Stricker back is the fact that he has not won a major championship. All 27 previous U.S. Ryder Cup captains won at least one major.
“They've never had a guy that's never won a major,” Stricker said. “So I would probably have to pick one off.”
Andy North, a two-time U.S. Open champion who also served as an assistant under Watson last year, said Stricker would make an excellent captain and didn't think the lack of a major would hurt his chances.
“Not if it's the right guy,” North said at the PGA Championship last year.
Stricker is recovering from December surgery for a bulging disk in his back and said recently that he was pain-free and confident he'd make a full recovery.
“It feels good,” he said. “All my pain and tingling and numbness is gone.”
He said he wasn't sure when he would return to the PGA Tour, though he planned to play in at least one tournament before the Masters in April.
“I'm hoping to play once before Augusta,” he said. “I'm not sure when that's going to be yet. Then I'll play the Masters. That's the goal.”