Steve Stricker said it was a no-brainer to skip the U.S. Senior Open to play in the John Deere Classic, and he’s not fretting over the six captain’s picks he’ll need to make for the United States Ryder Cup team next month, either.
That’s because he plans to seek the advice of the six players who earn automatic spots as part of his “team effort.”
In a typical Ryder Cup year, eight players would qualify and the final four would be chosen by the captain. With the Ryder Cup being postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 12-player roster has been split into half automatic qualifiers after the BMW Championship, with Stricker selecting the final six after the Tour Championship.
“I’ll have the opportunity to sit with those six (automatic) players,” Stricker said Wednesday. “After the top six make the team, I plan on seeing these six players and getting their feedback to the next six that we’re 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 PGA Tour event 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’ll 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.”
Stricker won the 2019 U.S. Senior Open in record fashion, but didn’t struggle with the decision to skip the event this year. This marks the 50th edition of the John Deere Classic, which is only a three-hour drive from Stricker’s home and an event he won three consecutive times from 2009-11.
He acknowledged that 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 favorites at +4000 by PointsBet.
“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.”
–Field Level Media
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