Stricker might be changing Ryder Cup jobs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Steve Stricker will be going next month to the Ryder Cup in Scotland. The problem is, he's not entirely sure what his job will be after shooting a 3-under-par 68 on Friday at the PGA Championship.
The 47-year-old Wisconsin native, who was tied for fifth Friday when he finished his second round at Valhalla Golf Club, was asked to be a vice captain by U.S. captain Tom Watson, who made the announcement Wednesday.
At 38th in the Ryder Cup standings, Stricker could still be on the U.S. squad, but nothing short of a victory at Valhalla would get him inside the top nine who automatically qualify.
Because the PGA Championship increased its purse to $10 million -- and the winner gets $1.8 million -- Stricker has a chance to make the team on points. (In PGA Tour events, one point is given for every $1,000 in prize money earned; at majors, two points are awarded for every $1,000 earned).
Stricker also could be an insurance policy. If a player is unable to compete due to injury, Watson can replace him up until the opening ceremonies the day before the matches begin. That could be the case with Jason Dufner (currently eighth in the standings) and Tiger Woods, who potentially could be a captain's pick. Dufner withdrew from the PGA Championship on Thursday with neck problems, and Woods is coming off back surgery. Stricker is also dealing with a hip injury.
That's not the only reason Watson decided to name Stricker -- a three-time Ryder Cup participant with a combined 3-7-1 record -- a vice captain.
"What Steve brings here is a great familiarity with the players who are on the tour right now," Watson said. "He's played against them, played with them, has played with them on the Ryder Cup team and the Presidents Cup teams. So he brings a great deal of understanding of who these players are and their capabilities. That's the bottom line."
Stricker, whose first Ryder Cup came here at Valhalla in 2008, joins Andy North and Raymond Floyd as the other assistants to Watson when the Americans try to reclaim the title in the biennial matches that start Sept. 26 at Gleneagles.
The PGA Championship is only Stricker's 11th start, with a best finish of T-6 at the Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus. He skipped last month's Open Championship despite being exempt in the year's third major.