WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
By RUSTY IDY
for the Daily Telegraph
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — The “Boys of Summer” generally refers to guys that heat it up on the diamond during baseball season. In golf terms, Steven Charles “Steve” Stricker, falls into that category.
Born on Feb. 23, 1967 in Edgerton, Wisconsin, Stricker graduated from the University of Illinois in 1990, earning All-American honors in 1988 and 1989. Stricker joined the PGA Tour in 1994 and has recorded 22 wins worldwide including wins at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the Memorial Tournament, the Accenture Match Play Championship and three wins at the John Deere Classic.
Life on tour has not always been easy for Stricker. After playing well for about 10 years, he went into a slump and lost his card in 2004. Relying on sponsor exemptions, he returned to form in 2006 with seven top-10 finishes and was named PGA Tour comeback Player of the Year.
Stricker now only plays a limited schedule on the PGA Tour over the last two seasons, but as summer heats up, Stricker sightings are much more frequent around the links.
While limited play often equates to poor play, that has not been the case for the veteran Stricker who has played well of late recording four top-25 finishes in the last five events, including a tie for sixth place at the Memorial Tournament.
“I got off to a bit of a slow start, I had some issues at home with my brother, but he is starting to feel better now. Plus the winter was not so nice at home this year, so it was a little bit harder to get my game in shape, but (my game) is starting to come around and my focus is better and things are starting to look up,” Stricker said.
The Greenbrier Classic and the Old White-TPC are familiar to Stricker and his family. Stricker played in the 2012 Greenbrier Classic finishing tied for 22nd with a four day total of 8-under par and familiar to his family because for the second time in as many trips to the Greenbrier, wife Nicki will caddie for her husband.
“We are excited to be back, Nicki is back on the bag which is fun for us, my kids are out having a great time, and this is a great family spot and a great place to bring your family. It is really fun having her out there, she is my best friend and we have always got along really well on the golf course, so we try to do it once in a while. She said it feels like she never left and is very comfortable doing it,” Stricker said.
Although it is a more casual atmosphere for Stricker, come Thursday it will be all business for Stricker who will have his eyes on the Greenbrier Classic for Ryder Cup points and to gauge the status of his game heading into a possible British Open appearance.
“If I play well and make some really good Ryder Cup Points then I will go (to the British Open). I am leaning on not going, but if I do something special here this week or next week and get a lot more (Ryder Cup) points, then I will probably go,” said Stricker.
The Old White-TPC has not been kind to some of golf’s biggest names like Woods and Mickelson who have yet to make a cut in the Greenbrier Classic. Stricker however likes the layout and feels it does not favor any particular style of golfer.
“It is a good course, I don’t think it favors a bomber and I don’t think it favors a short hitter. I think you have to hit it straight, stay out of the rough and hit some decent iron shots,” Stricker said. “The rough is just thick enough where it is hard to control. If you are in the rough, you can’t be aggressive into the green,
“The greens are putting well, rolling true, so it takes a complete game here. That is what I am going to have to do to play well. It’s going to take a well-rounded player, playing at the top of his game this week. It’s a good course and a good test.”
The test begins this morning for Steve Stricker and the rest of the Greenbrier Classic field. Stricker begins his part of the journey at 7:50 a.m.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
By RUSTY IDY
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