04/13/2016

The Masters just ended, memorably we should add, and the Ryder Cup still lurks in the fall, but the Presidents Cup found a way into the headlines this week.

Early Tuesday, it was announced that Steve Stricker and Nick Price would serve as the respective team captains for the 2017 battle between the Americans and the International squad.

Price, a three-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Famer, has served as captain each of the last two tournaments. After losing 18.5-15.5 at Muirfield in 2013 (an event that Tiger sealed), Price inspired a near victory in 2015 as the International Team fell 15.5-14.5. He’ll be hoping three times in the trick as his group tries to win the event for the first time since 1998.

There were other names out there that may have been more exciting choices, namely Ernie Els, KJ Choi or even Greg Norman again, but Price seems to be finding his groove.

The other captain, Stricker, is a somewhat bittersweet selection. In his prime, which extended to that 2013 Presidents Cup, he was one of the more consistent, popular players on the PGA Tour.

However, Stricker never won his major, a fact his loyal following rues to this day. That absence of hardware was even more glaring as 58-year-old Bernhard Langer and Stricker contemporary Lee Westwood contented at Augusta this past weekend. The game hasn’t passed those two. That has yet to be seen for Stricker.

But with this announcement, he ages just a little more. With his ability on and around the greens—he was so good that even Tiger Woods sought out his advice, Stricker rarely put together four bad rounds. When all else in golf was up in the air, you could count on Strick. The Americans see a captain in those qualities, as would most fans.

But there’s still a belief that Stricker isn’t done.

This was somewhat inevitable, though. Consider the 2013 event when Stricker was paired with a certain 20-year-old. Jordan Spieth made his professional, United States debut as a captain’s pick and looked nervous as he paced through Ohio. At each stop, however, Stricker had his arm around the young Texan or gave him an encouraging word. The duo finished 2-1 as the Americans won.

Spieth still recalls Stricker’s guidance, which likely gave the latter a leg up on other candidates.

Now, we’ll get a chance to see Stricker’s mentoring on display again.

He’ll head to Jersey City, New Jersey in two years at a time when he can bring along the Americans’ new leadership—Phil Mickelson, Woods, maybe Davis Love III depending on the Ryder Cup or Jim Furyk. The goal is to continue to build on the dominance in the Presidents Cup and transfer it to that more famous tournament.

Stricker as a captain is step one.

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