Captain Steve Stricker missed out both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson when he mentioned the players likely to form the backbone of the US team in next year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, writes MARTIN DEMPSTER in Wisconsin.
But Stricker, a local hero here in Wisconsin, later admitted that he wouldn’t be surprised if the two veteran stars played their way in to his team for the 43rd edition in just under a year’s time.
Stricker was speaking in his first joint-press conference with his European counterpart, Padraig Harrington, at the start of the big countdown to the biennial event on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Mickelson has played on every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team since 1994, while Woods is set to be a playing captain in the Presidents Cup in Australia later in the year.
“I think both are very capable of making the team,” said Stricker, who has been tasked with trying to win the trophy back for the US following a seven-point hammering at Le Golf National in France last year.
“Tiger probably will make his own team this year in The Presidents Cup. He’s played well again.
“It looks like Phil is building up his calves and getting thinner and hitting more bombs, so anything is possible with Phil, and with Tiger we know what type of player and competitor he is.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if either one of those guys made it and we welcome that as a team. They are both unbelievable in the team room. They obviously played on a number of teams and have had so much experience.
“To leave any of those guys out would be hard to do, just because of what they mean and what they have meant to these teams over the years.”
Harrington will lead Europe into battle next September on a course where he’s played in three US PGA Championships, most recently in 2015.
“I think it will be a great venue for the Ryder Cup,” said the Irishman. “It’s a dramatic golf course and we need that in the Ryder Cup.
“You need a dramatic golf course that lends itself to spectacular play, as well as some disastrous play. That’s what match play is about.”