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Schauffele, Spieth to head US Ryder captain’s picks

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Olympic champion Xander Schauffele has been named among six captain's picks by US skipper Steve Stricker for the Ryder Cup. AFP

Schauffele, Spieth to head US Ryder captain’s picks

Olympic champion Xander Schauffele and three-time major winner Jordan Spieth were named to the US Ryder Cup team but there was no place for Patrick Reed as captain Steve Stricker completed his line-up on Wednesday.

Schauffele and Spieth were joined by Daniel Berger, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler as Stricker confirmed his final selections for the September 24-26 clash with Europe at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Schauffele, 27, will be the first Olympic gold medallist to represent America in the Ryder Cup.

It follows an impressive showing in the 2019 Presidents Cup, when he helped the US clinch a comeback victory over Australia.

Reed lost only one of nine matches across his first two Ryder Cups, winning seven points and earning the nickname ‘Captain America’.

But he struggled in the US defeat in Paris in 2018, mustering just one point, and has only recently recovered from bilateral pneumonia, saying he was “battling for his life”.

Stricker said Wednesday Reed’s recent health problems and lack of play had factored in the decision to take what he described as 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 a very difficult call. It wasn’t an easy one. It was just the uncertainty of his health and really the lack of play that led to our decision down the stretch.”

Stricker said Reed had reacted to news of his omission “like a true champion.”

“I apologized many times to him and just wanted to make sure that he knew that it was a very difficult decision,” he said.

“He handled it like a champion and really took it well. Very disappointed as you can imagine but he said all the right things and handled it very well.”

‘Out-prepare Europe’

Berger, English and Scheffler will be making their first appearances in the biennial team tournament, while Finau returns for the second time fresh off a win at the Northern Trust last month.

Berger played for Stricker at the 2017 Presidents Cup and heads into the Ryder Cup after a season that included top-10 finishes at the US Open and British Open.

Spieth meanwhile will be playing in his fourth consecutive Ryder Cup, the longest current streak among the American contingent.

The 28-year-old has returned to form this season and has an impressive Ryder Cup fourballs record of five wins and only one loss.

Stricker meanwhile will run the rule over the US team this weekend when his players gather at Whistling Straits for practice and pre-Ryder Cup bonding.

“From what I understand, all the players and all the caddies will be here,” Stricker said.

“I don’t know if that’s ever happened in any other previous Ryder Cup where we’ve been all able to assemble at the venue before it actually takes place.

“My message from day one has been to try to out-prepare the other team, and for me, it’s been that way throughout my career -- just trying to prepare the best as I can when I go into events.

“Maybe take a little bit of the stress of Ryder Cup week off our plates by getting our work done now earlier than Ryder Cup week and get some rest that week.

“So all the guys are coming. I’m excited to see them all. We’ll go out, have a good time, get to learn the course a little bit, work on some pairings.”

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