U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker brings hardware to PGA Tour Champions event

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The Timuquana Country Club had a special guest star on Thursday.

It was less than 18 inches tall and weighed four pounds. Steve Stricker walked into the clubhouse caressing it as if were a newborn and carefully placed it on a table overlooking the club’s back lawn.

Welcome to Duval, Ryder Cup trophy. It’s the most sought-after bauble in golf, short of one signifying a major championship, and it returned to the U.S. after Stricker captained his team to 19-9 victory over Europe two weeks ago at Whistling Straits, in his home state of Wisconsin.

The Ryder Cup had a wingman during Stricker’s news conference, the Presidents Cup, the other biennial match-play event between the U.S. and an international team. Stricker became only the third man to captain winning U.S. teams in both competitions, joining Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

“Still just walking in here with it today, you know, the excitement from the people,” said Stricker, who will play the first round of the Constellation Furyk & Friends on Friday with two of his vice-captains, Davis Love III (who led the U.S. to the Ryder Cup in 2016), and Fred Couples. “Still get quite a few texts, people still reaching out. We’ve talked about it as a family, how surreal it’s been. The whole Ryder Cup seemed like a blur, it happened so fast. The results, you know, as we know what they were, and then after that we’re watching our daughter play and make it to the state tournament. It’s like back to reality and our normal living.”

Except having the Ryder Cup in your house isn’t exactly normal. And it can inspire at the oddest moments, such as Wednesday, when Stricker walked into his kitchen and saw that his daughter had taken the Ryder Cup, put it on the table in front of her laptop, and proceeded to begin doing her homework.

“Stuff like that is pretty weird, but it’s pretty cool to be a part of it all,” Stricker said.

The Ryder Cup also accompanied U.S. team member Harris English to the set of ESPN’s “GameDay,” last Saturday, where he was the guest predictor.

Having the Presidents Cup side-by-side with the Ryder Cup begged a question: did leading the U.S. to victory in 2017 at Liberty National help prepare Stricker to be the Ryder Cup captain.

“That meant a lot,” he said of the U.S. 19-11 victory that week. “It was a big learning deal for me just to feel like you have control of the team. I’m not that kind of an outgoing personality to tell these guys what to do and all that kind of stuff.

“So I learned a lot, but I learned a lot also from not only the playing part, but being a part of all those assistants’ years, being under Tom Watson, Jay Haas and, you know, Davis [Love], just all those guys that I was a part of, I learned a lot.”