Stricker s winning formula I just do what I do

By Associated PressJanuary 10, 2012, 10:35 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP)—Mention the best American golfers and Steve Stricker is on everyone’s list, just as he was 15 years ago.

The difference is that he bought into it back then.

Now he doesn’t care.

He was the highest-ranked American in the field at Kapalua, where theno-show list of 11 players included three major champions. Stricker was asked atthe start of the week if he saw himself as the main headliner. He smiledsheepishly and said, “No.”

“There’s nobody I would rather watch play golf than Steve Stricker,personally, as a fan,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said on Sunday asStricker was leading by five shots in the third round.

When this was mentioned to Stricker, someone jokingly suggested that Finchemwas sipping a Mai Tai when he said it.

“Was he drunk?” Stricker said with a laugh.

Stricker won the Tournament of Champions by three shots on Monday. It washis eighth win in his last 50 tournaments, the highest winning rate of anyone onthe PGA Tour in that span. Martin Laird , the runner-up, called Stricker the mostunderrated player in golf.

His reaction? Another smile.

“You’re asking the wrong guy,” Stricker said.

Winning for the 12th time in his career was special, along with telling hisfamily they get to come back to Maui next year. Having his two daughters greethim with a hug on the 18th green made it even sweeter. The plaudits? The worldranking? Trying to assess where he belong among a global lineup of stars?

It no longer matters to him.

What defines Stricker is what caddie Jimmy Johnson says to him whenever heneeds a pep talk.

“Do what you do.”

“I think that sums it up the best,” Stricker said. “We just go about anddo our thing. It may not be the flashiest thing at times, but I do other thingswell. I chip and putt well. I’m driving the ball well. Everybody has got alittle bit different game, and that’s the way I look at mine. Do the things thatwe know how to do the best.”

It wasn’t always that way.

Just when he was starting to hit his stride, Stricker looked around andstarted to wonder if he was good enough.

“I tried to compare myself to guys when I was playing well back in themid-90s, and I got into some bad things,” he said.

One of those guys was Tiger Woods .

Stricker was regarded as one of the rising Americans in 1996, when he brokethrough by winning the Kemper Open and the Western Open and finished at No. 4 onthe money list. A few months later, Woods turned pro and won twice in sevenstarts.

When he arrived at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am the following February,Stricker was at No. 13 in the world ranking. Woods was one spot behind at No.14. Phil Mickelson was No. 7, the highest of American golfers in their 20s.

Stricker was paired with Woods for three rounds—Stricker had sportscasterBryant Gumbel as an amateur partner, Woods had actor Kevin Costner. Strickerdidn’t make it to Sunday, tying for 66th. Woods was runner-up to Mark O’Meara .

Stricker left the Monterey Peninsula feeling inadequate.

“We were paired together at Pebble Beach, and I walked away from therefeeling my game was not anywhere close to him. And it wasn’t,” Stricker said.“He’s probably done that to other players, too, don’t you think? I just didn’tthink I had the skills or ability he had. But I’m OK with it now.”

That was the beginning of what once looked like the end.

Stricker traveled too much in the offseason after his banner year, going toSouth Africa and Scotland. He typically spends a long offseason home inWisconsin, and when he returned to golf, it felt more like work than pleasure.

He also took advantage of his success by signing lucrative deals withequipment companies, which added to his troubles. And then came the pairing withWoods at Pebble Beach.

Stricker plunged to No. 130 on the money list that year, recovered brieflyin 1998 when he had a back-nine duel with Vijay Singh at Sahalee in the PGAChampionship, the big Fijian’s first major.

There also was a brief return in 2001 when Stricker, who was No. 90 in theworld, got into the Match Play Championship in Australia because more than twodozen players ahead of him decided not to play. Stricker wound up winning,beating Ryder Cup players Padraig Harrington and Justin Leonard in the openingtwo rounds.

And then came the abyss that nearly ended his career, when he lost his PGATour card and only pulled himself out by hitting balls out of a three-sidedtrailer in Wisconsin to a driving range covered in snow.

Why the downfall?

“Some of it was seeing the ability Tiger had,” Stricker said. “Then Istarted trying different things, different equipment. And I played a ton of golfin the fall. I didn’t get away from the game. As you know, you have to be fresh.You have to want to be out there.”

What a renaissance this has been.

Stricker won The Barclays in 2007, the first FedEx Cup playoff event. He wonthree times in 2009, twice more in 2010 and 2011, and started the 2012 seasonwith yet another trophy. He has risen as high as No. 2 in the world. When he wonthe Deutsche Bank Championship in 2009, it was his first win with Woods in thefield.

It’s different now.

He was paired with Woods at the start of every playoff event in 2009. Theywere represented by the same agent (Mark Steinberg) for years, but never wereparticularly close until that year. Stricker still noticed a difference in theirability. But he knew he was capable of good golf himself.

“I had built up some confidence, and I wasn’t worried about what hethought, or how I played with him,” Stricker said. “Then we started gettingpaired together, and then were partners in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. Andwe became … well, we are friends. And now, it’s like going out to play with myfriend. I don’t care about that stuff anymore.

“I just do what I do.”

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.