Stricker fills out US team with 4 more Ryder Cup rookies

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Fox News 08 September, 2021 - 12:44pm 13 views

Who did Stricker pick for Ryder Cup?

U.S. Captain Steve Stricker announced six selections — Daniel Berger, Harris English, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth — to the team for the biennial international showdown which returns later this month after a one-year postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ForbesU.S. Captain Steve Stricker Rounds Out Ryder Cup Team With Six Selections

Who is on the US Ryder Cup team this year?

Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Harris English, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele and Scottie Scheffler Added to 2021 American Ryder Cup Team. American captain Steve Stricker adds veterans Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau plus four rookies to the 2021 team that will take on Team Europe at Whistling Straits. Sports IllustratedJordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Harris English, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele and Scottie Scheffler Added to 2021 American Ryder Cup Team

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now completed their Wednesday practice and according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, outside linebacker T.J. Watt was indeed a full participant in the session.

Steelers inside linebacker Joe Schobert also reportedly said after practice that it was nice having Watt out on the practice field. Watt did not participate in any team drills all throughout the offseason and through training camp. He also did not practice fully on Monday.

TJ Watt was back at practice today, fully participating. And yes, that includes the team period.

Joe Schobert, a fellow Wisconsinite, said it was great to be out there with Watt again.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 8, 2021

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after practice that Watt looked good during the session. Tomlin indicated on Tuesday that he thought Watt would be a full practice participant on Wednesday.

“Thought he looked good,” Tomlin said. “He was engaged. He’s been a full participant in walkthroughs and things of that nature. He’s a smart guy. He can learn from watching others and it’s evident in watching him work today.”

Coach Tomlin on T.J. Watt: I thought he looked good, he was engaged.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) September 8, 2021

With Watt now fully practicing, it makes you wonder if he has now signed a long-term contract extension. There has yet to be any indication that he has, however.

The Steelers will play the Buffalo Bills on the road on Sunday, and Watt is expected to play in that contest.

Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt was a full participant at practice Wednesday on the South Side. pic.twitter.com/xMfKgAauRg

— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) September 8, 2021

— Charles Palla (@ChazPalla) September 8, 2021

Steelers news...as much or as little as you want

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Spieth, Finau added as U.S. fills team; Reed out

ESPN 08 September, 2021 - 09:20am

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Deciding youth would serve the team better than experience, Steve Stricker on Wednesday completed his U.S. Ryder Cup team by selecting six players -- four of whom have never competed in the pressure-packed biennial competition.

The U.S. captain chose Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler to round out the 12-man team.

Stricker made the announcement at Whistling Straits Golf Club in Haven, Wisconsin. The 43rd Ryder Cup begins at the site Sept. 24.

Schauffele, English, Berger and Scheffler will be making their first Ryder Cup appearances, as will automatic qualifiers Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay, giving the U.S. six rookies.

The 12-man U.S. team that will compete at Whistling Straits Golf Club in the 43rd Ryder Cup, which begins Sept. 24.

Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are the other automatic qualifiers from a two-year points system that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic that postponed the event until this year.

Former U.S. Ryder Cup players in contention who were not chosen to the team were Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson.

"Everybody's getting younger in this sport, it seems like," Stricker said. "They are playing better at a younger age. They get some match-play competition under their belts at the amateur level. They bring in an excitement level that is unmatched. They are eager, willing to learn, and they just want to have that opportunity and will do anything for that opportunity.

"I see that much in these six guys here as well, in that they are just eager to get in there and play and they are excited to be a part of this."

Stricker was a rookie on the U.S. team that won at Valhalla in 2008, but he was also on losing teams in 2010 and 2012. He has also been part of losing teams as a vice captain in 2014 and 2018, but he was the victorious U.S. Presidents Cup captain in 2017.

The first U.S. Ryder Cup captain who did not win a major championship as a player, Stricker has been a big part of the behind-the-scenes system in recent years. And he came armed with statistics: U.S. rookies are 40-29-17 since 2018; experience is overrated.

"I feel like I'm an old guy on tour," Schauffele said. "I'm turning 28 soon, and I feel like I'm one of the older guys. We have Collin on our team who is, I don't know, 23 or 24 maybe [Morikawa is indeed 24], and kids keep getting better at younger ages. So I just felt like it was a good time for a younger influx based on that."

Johnson, at age 37, is the oldest member of the team. English is 32; Finau is 31.

For the first time since 1993, neither Phil Mickelson nor Tiger Woods is playing on the U.S. team. Mickelson missed the Presidents Cup in 2019 (when Woods was a playing captain), and he failed to make a Ryder Cup for the first time since his initial competition in 1995.

Mickelson will serve as one of Stricker's assistants.

Woods went 0-4 at the 2018 Ryder Cup and has not played this year while recovering from a serious car accident.

If there was a surprise among the picks it was Scheffler, who has never played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup and has not won on the PGA Tour. The last pick not to have won before competing in a Presidents Cup was Rickie Fowler in 2010.

But Stricker and his vice captains -- Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Zach Johnson, Mickelson and Fred Couples -- like how Scheffler is suited to the long Whistling Straits course.

Scheffler defeated Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm and Jason Day at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship earlier this year.

"That caught our attention early on," Stricker said. "Another guy who is long off the tee. His stats across the board are very solid from top to bottom, and the guy makes a lot of birdies, which should do us very well going around Whistling Straits."

Scheffler, who was 14th in the points race, was chosen over Ryder Cup veterans Reed, who finished 11th in the points, and Webb Simpson, who was 13th.

"Patrick Reed ... that was a very, very difficult call," Stricker said. "Kind of lose sleep over that one. He's a tremendous competitor. He brings a lot of match-play golf. His record at the Ryder Cup is pretty darned good. It was a very difficult call. It was just the uncertainty of his health and really the lack of play that led to our decision down the stretch."

Reed was recently hospitalized with double pneumonia and missed the first two FedEx Cup playoff events before returning at the Tour Championship. It is possible that Reed could be an alternate, as Koepka injured his wrist while hitting a tree root Sunday at the Tour Championship.

No decisions are necessary at this time, but a player can be replaced up until the start of the competition. Kevin Na was another tough call to leave off, Stricker said.

Unclear at this point are any kind of COVID-19 adjustments and what happens if a player tests positive at the Ryder Cup. An injured player at a Ryder Cup can be replaced in the team competition, but for Sunday singles, rules stipulate that each captain have a player's name in an envelope in case someone on the other side is injured and can't play.

In that case, that player sits out and each side is awarded a half-point.

Stricker said he believes all 12 players and their caddies will be at Whistling Straits this weekend for two days of practice.

"My message from day one has been to try to out-prepare the other team, the European team. And for me, it's been that way throughout my career, is just trying to prepare the best as I can when I go into events," Stricker said. "Let's get as much practice as we can here."

The European team, captained by Ireland's Padraig Harrington, will have nine automatic qualifiers at the conclusion of this week's BMW PGA Championship outside of London. Harrington will make his three at-large selections after the final round.

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Equipped with the most captain's picks in Ryder Cup history, Stricker added four more rookies to his team on Tuesday to join the six players who earned automatic spots. His six selections included obvious choices and, as always, a few that could have gone either way.

Among those left out was Patrick Reed.

Stricker chose the next four players in the Ryder Cup standings — Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Harris English — along with Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler.

“We are looking to the best players to perform here at Whistling Straits, and these six guys that we picked we feel like fit Whistling Straits to a T,” Stricker said.

Missing was Reed, who thrives in team events with his bullish personality and great short game. He has a 7-3-2 record in three previous Ryder Cups and is undefeated in singles.

Reed, however, hasn't seriously contended in the 18 tournaments he has played since his lone victory at Torrey Pines. Of greater concern to Stricker was his health.

Reed was hospitalized for five days with pneumonia in his lower lungs that made him fear for his life, missing the final two qualifying events. He returned at the Tour Championship and tied for 17th in actual score against a 30-man field.

“That was a very, very difficult call — kind of lost sleep over that one," Stricker said. “He's a tremendous competitor. He brings a lot to match-play golf. His record here at the Ryder Cup is pretty darned good. ... It was just the uncertainty of his health and really the lack of play that led to our decision down the stretch.”

Stricker made it clear he wanted players whose game suited Whistling Straits — a course along the bluffs of Lake Michigan that tends to favor power — and said he wanted his players to know it well ahead of the Sept. 24-26 matches.

All 12 players and their caddies are expected for a two-day practice session over the weekend.

“My message from day one has been to try to out-prepare the other team,” he said.

The six picks join six who earned automatic spots — Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay.

All are among the top 21 in the world ranking. Six have never played in a Ryder Cup. Eight are still in their 20s, and the average age (29) is the youngest ever for the Americans.

“I think it's a good time for a younger influx of players,” said Schauffele, the 27-year-old Californian and Olympic gold medalist.

Stricker said U.S. rookies have compiled a 40-29-17 record in the Ryder Cup dating to 2008.

Europe, which has won nine of the last 12 dating to 1995 and is coming off a sound victory in Paris, does not finalize its team until after this week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Nine players earn spots, and Padraig Harrington has three captain's picks.

The six rookies are the most for an American team since 2008, when Paul Azinger introduced his pod system and the U.S. secured a rare victory at Valhalla.

Scheffler, 25, is the first American to be picked without Ryder Cup experience or having won on the PGA Tour since Rickie Fowler in 2010 at Wales. Scheffler has been a steady presence who ranked seventh in birdies on the PGA Tour this season.

What first got Stricker's attention was the Dell Match Play in March, when Scheffler mowed down Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm and Matt Kuchar — all renowned for match play — before losing in the championship match to Billy Horschel.

Scheffler has finished in the top 20 in his last six majors, going into the final round in contention in three of them.

“His stats across the board are very solid from top to bottom, and the guy makes a lot of birdies, which should do us very well going around Whistling Straits,” Stricker said.

Scheffler, Morikawa and the 32-year-old English, a two-time winner this year, are the only true rookies. Their only experience was the Walker Cup.

Schauffele and Cantlay were a strong team at the Presidents Cup in 2019, while Berger played in the Presidents Cup in 2017.

Stricker said he and his assistants did not concentrate too heavily on the last month of the season, but rather on a consistent body of work over the last two years and games that would be a good fit for the golf course.

“That's what made the choices in my eyes pretty easy, and after consulting with the six guys that made the team and my assistant captains, we landed on these six guys pretty easily just because of their form, the way they fit Whistling Straits, their demeanors on and off the golf course and in the team room,” he said.

Stricker was captain of the Presidents Cup team in 2017, and he was an assistant Ryder Cup captain the last three times.

The U.S. team typically has eight automatic qualifiers and four captain's picks. That was increased to six for this Ryder Cup because of uncertainty over how the COVID-19 pandemic — which postponed the matches for one year — would affect the tour schedule.

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