Steve Stricker will retain the final six selections for the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team, which means the U.S. captain will also retain the need to play more on the PGA Tour over the next year than the Madison golfer had envisioned.
Team USA: 2020 Ryder Cup Points Standings
|1||1||Collin MORIKAWA (Q)||18,883.82|
|2||2||Dustin JOHNSON (Q)||18,058.24|
|3||3||Bryson DECHAMBEAU (Q)||17,367.91|
|4||4||Brooks KOEPKA (Q)||15,418.06|
|5||5||Justin THOMAS (Q)||15,269.82|
|6||11||Patrick CANTLAY (Q)||13,391.33|
|7||6||Tony FINAU (CP)||12,970.65|
|8||7||Xander SCHAUFFELE (CP)||12,730.20|
|9||8||Jordan SPIETH (CP)||12,462.51|
|10||9||Harris ENGLISH (CP)||11,605.30|
|12||12||Daniel BERGER (CP)||10,906.57|
|14||14||Scottie SCHEFFLER (CP)||9,295.80|
On the eve of the PGA Championship at TPC-Harding Park in San Francisco, the PGA of America announced revisions to the U.S. qualifying process for the next Ryder Cup, which last month was postponed from 2020 to 2021 at Whistling Straits in Haven due to COVID-19 concerns.
American golfers will continue to earn points for the six automatic berths through the second event in the 2021 PGA Tour playoffs. Stricker, whose allotment of captain's picks was increased from four to six in June before the biennial event was rescheduled, will then announce those six choices after the 2021 Tour Championship.
"Another year of points. Another year of the system playing itself out, and again, I'm looking forward to that challenge of watching these guys and being around," said Stricker, who will now get to play in two PGA Championships — this week and again in May when the 2021 PGA is played at Kiawah Island, S.C. — on an exemption given to the current Ryder Cup captain.
"I played with (second-year PGA Tour professional) Collin Morikawa (Wednesday), a kid that I haven't even barely met before. It gives me a tremendous amount of time, extra time to get to know some of these kids that potentially could make the team."
Indeed, this wasn't how the 53-year-old Stricker envisioned spending the rest of 2020 and most of 2021.
At some point, Stricker would like to spend more time competing against golfers his age on PGA Tour Champions. Since turning 50 in 2017, he has played in 23 events over three-plus seasons with 19 top-10 finishes, including five victories (two of them being senior majors).
However, Stricker also knows how important it is — in his role as Ryder Cup captain — to get to know the emerging stars of the PGA Tour, like Morikawa, as they become options for his six captain's picks.
"My plan was to play The Ryder Cup this September and then play, you know, mainly (PGA Tour) Champions events next year," Stricker said at a news conference at TPC-Harding Park. "But that's changed, and I'll be back out here playing some more of the regular tour just to be out here. ... Again, to be around, to be visible, to do like what I did (Wednesday) and play with Collin Morikawa, play with other guys, and just be out here and visible. I think that's important."
Stricker used Wednesday's news conference to explain the decision to preserve the six at-large picks instead of reverting to the traditional allotment of eight golfers qualifying on points and the remaining four selections going to the captain.
"You know, we just thought that it was in the best interests of the team to put our best team forward to give us that flexibility to get the pairings that we feel are best, to get the guys ... that are playing well, maybe guys that suit that course better than some other guys," said Stricker, who has three of the PGA Tour's longest drivers among the top six in the Ryder Cup standings led by No. 1 Bryson DeChambeau. "It just gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility. It was a decision amongst all of us that we thought was the good one and the proper one, and we're sticking with it."
In the meantime, Stricker said he is sticking with his plan to play a few PGA Tour Champions events over the next few months before it will become more important for him to increase his PGA Tour starts for evaluation of potential Ryder Cup talent.
He said he will play the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship, a major on the senior circuit, next week in Akron, Ohio, and possibly both of the additions to the PGA Tour Champions schedule in Branson, Mo. His 2019 U.S. Senior Open victory makes him eligible to compete in the rescheduled 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot GC in Mamaroneck, N.Y. He is also in line to defend his title at the Regions Tradition, also a senior major which was moved from May to late September opposite the dates that the 2020 Ryder Cup was to have been played.
"Come this fall when we get to watch some more golf, and then obviously next year as we get closer to the Ryder Cup, it will be more about just trying to formulate the team, see who is playing well, look at the possible pairings and watch a lot of golf and get to know ... some of these guys and work on some of the pairings," Stricker said. "So we've got a long ways to go, obviously, but ... it was a relief to kind of make the decision (on the U.S. qualifying process), have the PGA make the decision, and look forward to next year."