Former Ryder Cup winning captain defends Team USA stars after

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Team USA Ryder Cup vice-captain Steve Stricker has jumped to defend the team after claims that players were “too close” during the 2023 event. Stricker, who captained the team to their record 19-9 triumph at Whistling Straits in his native Wisonsin in 2021,  was responding to a week of criticism following the dramatic defeat to Europe at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome.

Stricker is no stranger to drama surrounding the Ryder Cup having appeared in three teams during his career. The 56-year-old was first called up at Valhalla in 2008, where he was on the winning side, but failed to claim glory at Celtic Manor in 2010 and Medinah in 2012.

With a solid playing career under his belt, Stricker was named as team captain at Whistling Straights in 2021 where he oversaw a dominating 10-point win in his native state. However, this year’s team was less fortunate.

As well as losing the match, Team USA’s tournament was marred in controversy. Patrick Cantlay reportedly refusing to wear the team cap started off proceedings with suggestions – heavily rejected in the days since – that there was a divide in the camp.

In a bizarre twist claims then followed that the team, and their partners, were too close with each other and perhaps players picked on friendships rather than form – something which Stricker has been left confused by.

“These guys get along very well with each other,” Stricker said as reported by “I don’t know who it was in the media, but I heard — I was going through the locker room or somewhere yesterday, it might have been Brad Faxon on saying that we’re too close, that we’re too much buddy buddies and the wives are too much friends.

“I just, I shake my head at that. At first, we weren’t close enough, now we’re too close? I don’t get that. The team was very good.”

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Reflecting on the tournament, Stricker believes that Team Europe held a big advantage when playing at Marco Simone – a course that has hosted the DP World Tour’s Italian Open for the last three years.

The American claims that European golfers are more familiar with the course where the likes of Robert MacIntyre, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood have all impressed in recent years.

“They have an opportunity to play that course a few times before we do,” he said. “I think [that was] the biggest challenge this year. Zach [Johnson] tried to get the guys over there for a practice round, which we did. That helped.”

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