Sports Column: Stricker shows US players how to win as a team
Column: Ryder Cup scrutiny usually starts when it's over
Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington have been Ryder Cup captains for nearly three years, long enough to know not every decision they make is going to be popular. Deciding whether they were the right moves won't start until the Ryder Cup is over. Except for an English seed merchant, Samuel Ryder, who donated his name and a gold trophy to the event nearly a century ago, this could just as easily be called the Hindsight Cup. “There's beenDeciding whether they were the right moves won't start until the Ryder Cup is over.
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — Of course he cried. The odds of Steve Stricker not having tears running down his face after leading the U.S. to a dominating Ryder Cup win were about as long as the chances of Europe roaring back on Sunday to beat the Americans.
He cried before a shot had been hit and cried again when there were no more left to be hit. Later on, he cried some more, and a lot of people at Whistling Straits cried tears of happiness alongside him.
This wasn’t just a win but a rout. The Ryder Cup was safely back in American hands and the way this U.S. team performed, it looks like it may stay for a long time.
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It may not have happened if not for a hometown captain who showed a supremely talented group of players how to win the way the Europeans always won — as a team.
“Without him, who knows how this week would have went," Collin Morikawa said.
Just how much did players want to win it for their captain? Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka offered to put aside their feud and play with each other if it would help get a few points.
“That’s how much it came together,” Stricker said. “That shows a lot about this whole team.”
It shows even more about their captain, a popular and self-effacing 12-time winner on the PGA Tour who didn’t need a Ryder Cup captaincy to validate his career. He got one anyway and delivered the biggest blowout ever in biennial matches against Europe in the 19-9 win.
Stricker happy that a postponement helped get Spieth on team
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — No one benefited from the Ryder Cup being postponed one year by the pandemic as much as Jordan Spieth. Odds are he wouldn't have been at Whistling Straits. Spieth, who won three majors before he turned 24, was mired in a slump for the better part of three years. He was out of the top 50 in the world and No. 17 in the Ryder Cup standings and falling when the pandemic forced golf to shut down and rearrange the schedule. ThatSpieth, who won three majors before he turned 24, was mired in a slump for the better part of three years. He was out of the top 50 in the world and No. 17 in the Ryder Cup standings and falling when the pandemic forced golf to shut down and rearrange the schedule.
Sure, the U.S. came in favored because it had the best players, though in past Ryder Cups that never seemed to matter. The Europeans were usually better as a team because previous U.S. coaches and players never seemed able to figure out what it meant to be a team.
Not this time. Not when they were led by a captain who had a couple of beers before the opening ceremony so he wouldn’t start crying when he introduced his wife and two daughters to the assembled crowd.
Stricker cried anyway, but that just made them want to win for him even more.
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“He’s so passionate. He’s a softie, he cares so much," Koepka said before play began. “It’d be nice to see him cry on Sunday."
Stricker spent three years getting ready for three long days, believing more than anything that the Americans' chances would be even better if they were better prepared than the Europeans. That meant adding a half-dozen assistant captains to look after every detail, and making sure that even Tiger Woods, recuperating in Florida, had a voice on this team.
Brooks Koepka all in for Team USA at Ryder Cup: 'I never said it was negative'
Brooks Koepka set the record straight on his commitment to the Ryder Cup team, which had been called into question recently over his comments.“I enjoy it. I think it’s a lot of fun to play,” Koepka said Thursday at Whistling Straits, home to the 43rd Ryder Cup. “I wouldn’t be nervous on that first tee if I didn’t care.
But there were no rah-rah speeches in the team room like at past Ryder Cups. The 54-year-old didn’t create pods of players based on psychological evaluations or bring in celebrities to have their say.
Instead, Stricker and his assistants had a simple plan: Put your best in the best position you can and let them do the rest.
“This is the greatest team of all time right here," he said. “These guys are unbelievable."
That showed almost from the opening tee shot on Friday, when the U.S. jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead in alternate-shot play. Two more 3-1 sessions followed and by the time play ended Saturday evening, the Americans had a commanding 11-5 lead.
It was as good as over, though the short message Stricker delivered to the team was that it wasn’t quite over yet. He sent them out to dominate one last day and they did just that, winning the points 8-4 and sending a message that there was a new world order in team golf.
“They obviously got it right this week, a very strong team,” European captain Padraig Harrington said. “But you know, I’m happy for Steve Stricker. You know, he’s one of the good guys in golf. If you’re going to get beat by a captain, that’s a good captain for sure."
'Harry Potter' actor Tom Felton carted off after collapse at celebrity golf event
'Harry Potter' actor Tom Felton, competing in the Ryder Cup celebrity match Thursday, was carted from the course after an apparent medical event.The teams had just finished posing for photos when Felton seized and fell to the ground. Panicked calls for medical assistance ensued as the European Ryder Cup team came down the ninth fairway during their practice round.
The blowout win was actually the second for a team under Stricker, who led the U.S. Presidents Cup team to a 19-11 win in 2017 that paved the way for his selection as the Ryder Cup captain. He played in three Ryder Cups himself, though his 3-7-1 record now probably won’t be discussed much when there is talk about his legacy in the team competition.
After a week that went nearly perfectly, Stricker could have taken credit for orchestrating the rout. But that’s not his style, and he went out of his way to thank almost everyone from the players to Woods to the Kohler family that developed the rugged course on the shore of Lake Michigan.
While he wasn’t ready to take a bow, he was more than eager to join in the celebration.
“I never won a major,” he said, tearing up yet again. “This is my major right here.”
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
Tim Dahlberg, The Associated Press
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