Ryder Cup 2020 team captains Steve Stricker and Padrig Harrington will spend the next year preparing for what will be a momentous event in their professional golf careers.
The two, first-time captains convened on Tuesday morning at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan County to celebrate the one-year countdown to the Ryder Cup and to discuss their expectations for the tournament, set to take place Sept. 22 to 27, 2020.
Steve Stricker leads the U.S. team as a 12-time PGA Tour winner and five-time PGA Tour Champions winner. A Madison native, Stricker said it's significant to host the "ultimate event in the game of golf" at a top course in his home state.
"It's going to be an exciting time here and the course is beautiful, one of our best courses in the state of Wisconsin," he said "...From everyone I talk to, the anticipation and level of excitement is really through the roof, and it's no different from me."
American golfers have come up short at each of the three PGA Championships held at Whistling Straits (2004, 2010 and 2015). That history is concerning, Stricker said, but the U.S. team will still have the home field advantage.
"Just to be able to play it here is really a special treat for all of us," he said. "The state is going to show up big time and we're going to have the crowd on our side."
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European team captain Harrington, who is a three-time major champion and boasts 15 wins along the European tour with an additional 15 victories around the world, called Whistling Straits an "ideal match-play golf course."
"The Ryder Cup is probably the most exciting golf event-- one of the biggest sporting events, but certainly the most exciting in golf and you need a dramatic golf course that lends itself to spectacular plays as well as some disastrous play, that's what match play is about," said Harrington, a native of Dublin, Ireland.
He said the organic structure of the course will present a challenge for players, and unpredictable late-September weather may also affect play.
On the other hand, Whistling Straits has been likened to that of a traditional Irish course, which could be seen as an advantage for European players. The similarities appeared more apparent Tuesday morning with rain and clouds. Harrington joked the whether was typical of a summer's day in Ireland.
"Hopefully we will have nice sunny, 70-degree days next year at this time," Stricker said.
The 2020 Ryder Cup will be the first time the biennial men’s golf competition between teams from Europe and the U.S. is held in Wisconsin, which has become a destination for championship golf competition in recent years.
Learn more about the impact of the tournament and Wisconsin’s golf culture from a recent Q&A with David Kohler, chief executive officer of Kohler Co., which owns Whistling Straits.