Both 2020 Ryder Cup captains have formed their own teams to play the 2019 Zurich Classic, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.
“Having both 2020 Ryder Cup captains playing our tournament indicates the importance they see in mid-season team play,” said Worthy. “Steve Stricker and his partner Jerry Kelly have both played here many times, with Jerry winning our tournament in 2009. Padraig Harrington is a three-time major champion who has also had success here before,” added Worthy.
Stricker has won 12 times on the PGA TOUR and three times on the PGA TOUR Champions. All three Champions Tour victories were scored in 2018, Stricker’s second year on the senior circuit.
He served as captain of the victorious American Presidents Cup team in 2017, after playing as a member of the team five times. He also played on three Ryder Cup teams and served as vice-captain three times.
In his PGA TOUR career that started in 1990, Stricker ranks 15th in all-time earnings with nearly $44 million. At the Zurich Classic, he has finished in the top 10 three times and the top 20 nine times. He teamed with Jerry Kelly to earn a tie for 14th in the 2017 Zurich Classic, the first time using the team format.
Kelly graduated to the Champions Tour in 2017, the same year as his close friend Stricker. He won the 2017 Rookie of the Year award and in only two years won three Champions victories to go with his three PGA TOUR titles.
Before he left the PGA TOUR fulltime after the 2016 season, he advanced to the FedExCup playoffs ten consecutive years.
Harrington won the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie in a playoff against Sergio Garcia. He then came back the next year to win both the 2008 Open Championship and the PGA Championship, becoming the first European to win back-to-back major titles.
He also earned a tie for fourth in the 2008 Zurich Classic and finished that season eighth in PGA TOUR money winnings. He has won a total of six PGA TOUR titles and 20 international tournaments in his career.
Harrington has established a reputation as one of Europe’s most active team players. He earned a place on the European Ryder Cup team six times and on the World Cup 11 times consecutively from 1996 through 2006. He also played in four Seve Cup competitions and four Dunhill Cup contests. He represented Ireland in the 2016 Olympics. As an amateur, he played on the winning Walker Cup team against the U.S. in 1985.
He served as vice-captain of the European Ryder Cup teams in 2014, 2016 and 2018 before being named captain for next year’s competition at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. He will be the third professional from Ireland to serve as European Ryder Cup captain, following Paul McGinley in 2014 and Darren Clarke in 2016.
In addition to his tie for fourth in the 2008 Zurich Classic, he tied for ninth in the 2005 tournament. He and Lowry finished tied for 28th in last year’s Zurich Classic.
Harrington’s teammate Shane Lowry started playing a full schedule on the PGA TOUR in 2015. He won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2015 and has claimed four European Tour titles, most recently at the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.
Currently ranked 47th in the world, Lowry recorded his best finish this season in a tie for 10th in the ISPS Handa World Cup. He tied for second in the 2016 U.S. Open and tied for ninth in the 2014 Open Championship.
He has played in three World Cups and one Eurasia Cup. Before turning professional, he won the Irish Amateur Closed Championship and was a member of the winning Irish team in the European Amateur Team Championship in 2007 and 2008.
Zurich Classic contributed to this story.