Steve Stricker, the captain of the United States, admitted to losing sleep over the choice to keep Patrick Reed off of his Ryder Cup 2020 team.
Stricker named Daniel Berger, Harris English, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, and Jordan Spieth as the six wildcards who will join the six automatic qualifiers announced earlier this month at Whistling Straits.
Reed has played in each of the last three Ryder Cup teams, earning the moniker “Captain America” after leading Team USA to victory in both the 2014 and 2016 competitions. However, the former Masters champion is missing from this year’s roster.
After a week in the hospital for bilateral pneumonia, the 31-year-old missed the first two FedExCup playoffs and only returned to action at the Tour Championship last week, with Stricker opting not to invite him into his Wisconsin team.
Stricker admitted, “I kind of lost sleep over that one.” “He’s a fierce competitor. In match-play golf, he brings a lot to the table. His record at The Ryder Cup 2020 is rather impressive. Our decision came down the stretch due to the uncertainty of his health and, more importantly, his lack of playing time.
“It was a difficult talk to have. I called him right away. He was the first person I called. I knew it was going to be difficult, but he handled it like a genuine champion. I apologised several times to him and simply wanted to make sure he understood how difficult the decision was.
“He handled it like a champion and took it in stride. As you could expect, he was disappointed, but he said all the right things and handled the situation admirably.”
Brooks Koepka was one of six automatic qualifiers for Stricker’s team, one of just three players to survive Team USA’s Ryder Cup victory in 2016, but he remains a question mark after withdrawing from the Tour Championship in the middle of the tournament due to a wrist injury.
“We’ve discussed whether or not we need to replace Brooks [Koepka], but we’re not there yet,” Stricker stated. “Right now, we’re focused on these 12 men and moving forward with these 12 individuals, and if that issue arises, we’ll deal with it.”
This weekend, the entire USA team is slated to play a practise round at Whistling Straits, with Stricker insisting that preparation is crucial if his team is to reclaim the trophy.
“I’m not sure if that’s ever happened in a previous Ryder Cup where we’ve all been able to get together at the location before the event,” Stricker said.
“From the beginning, my message has been to try to out-prepare the other team, the European Team, and it’s remained that way for me throughout my career, just trying to prepare as best as I can when I go into competitions.”
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