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Stricker ready to bounce back from Ryder Cup failure

By Steve Keating

MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - As Tiger Woods' Ryder Cup wingman, Steve Stricker flew under the radar at Medinah Country Club but found himself in the media crosshairs on Sunday after failing to contribute a single point as the United States narrowly lost to Europe.

One of Davis Love III's four captain's picks, Stricker was expected to team up with the hard-to-match Woods as a potent point producing partnership for the United States.

In Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team play, Woods and Stricker had produced a combined record of 6-2 coming into this week but they could not deliver at Medinah where both failed to win a point.

While the attention was all on Woods' woes, Stricker quietly slumped to a 0-4 record at Medinah and crumbled when he had a chance to rescue U.S. Cup hopes late on Sunday.

With his singles match against Germany's Martin Kaymer all square after 16 holes and the U.S. needing one more point to hoist the Cup, Stricker lipped out with a seven-foot par putt at the 17th to go one down.

Though he sank an eight-footer to save par at the last under intense pressure, Kaymer followed with a matching five-footer to complete a one-up win for Europe to retain the trophy.

While Stricker felt he had let his team down, he remained steadfast that he deserved his place on the team as a captain's selection.

"I am disappointed that I let 11 other players down and the captains, and probably Tiger at the end there, to probably get some points," said Stricker. "So that's disappointing."

"I was really one birdie short of making the team on my own, so I felt like I deserved to be on the team. I felt like my game was in good shape."

While the U.S. loss by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2 was crushing and his own performance disappointing, Striker assured he would bounce back.

Twice voted the PGA Tour's comeback player of the year after overcoming career-threatening injuries, Stricker's Ryder Cup failures are unlikely to cause him too many restless nights.

"There's a lot of expectations on us, we put a lot of expectations on ourselves to perform," Stricker told reporters. "When you're going good, it's great and when you're not, it can be a negative because you feel like you're letting the crowd down.

"We'll pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off. We're resilient, as golfers you have got to be. It's the nature of the game.

"I've been down in some depths before that you've just got to pick yourself up and play golf again. That's all it is, we'll be disappointed for sure, but we'll all be all right."

(Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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