Ryder Cup: USA’s Steve Stricker to ask automatic qualifiers for advice on six captain’s picks

Steve Stricker says he will ask for advice from the players who earn automatic spots on the US Ryder Cup team on how he should use his six captain’s picks for this year’s event.

In a typical Ryder Cup year, eight players would qualify and the final four would be chosen by the captain.

But with the Ryder Cup being postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 12-player roster will now include six automatic qualifiers after August’s BMW Championship, with Stricker selecting the final six following the Tour Championship at the beginning of September.

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“I’ll have the opportunity to sit with those six [automatic] players,” Stricker said. “After the top six make the team, I plan on seeing these six players and getting their feedback to the next six that we are going to pick.

“I want this to be a team effort. I want everybody to be all in on who these six picks are going to be and make it a team, a true team deal.”

The top six spots are currently occupied by Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele. The next six are Patrick Reed, Harris English, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger – the only one of the top dozen in this week’s John Deere Classic ahead of The Open Championship.

There are several more names Stricker will be considering, including Phil Mickelson coming off his PGA Championship win, former major champion Webb Simpson, two-time winner this season Jason Kokrak and rising stars Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns and Will Zalatoris, among others.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of guys there, but I think it will shake itself out,” Stricker said. “I don’t think it’s going to be more difficult at all.

“That’s my plan going forward. But I don’t think it’s going to be any harder if it was four or six.”

As well as overseeing plans for this September’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Stricker is also looking to add individual silverware to his haul, and will continue his hunt at the John Deere Classic this week.

Stricker won the 2019 US Senior Open in record fashion, but did not struggle with the decision to skip the event this year in order to play in the 50th edition of the John Deere Classic, which is only a three-hour drive from his home and an event he won three consecutive times from 2009-11.

He acknowledged he has lost some distance at 54 years old and is now hitting his approach shots from different places than in previous years at TPC Deere Run.

Stricker called his attempt to win the event for the fourth time “a tall order,” but with Berger the only top-20 player in the field, Stricker is among the top-11 pre-tournament favourites.

“It’s a special week here,” he said. “It’s 50 years here for the John Deere Classic. Having this tournament mean so much to me over the years, it just felt like a no-brainer to come back here and to play here.

“It’s a special place for me and my family.”

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