Wisconsin native Stricker the main man this week

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2010, 12:52 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – No pressure or anything, Steve Stricker. There’s only an entire state hanging on your every shot at the PGA Championship.

Wisconsin’s favorite golfer is generating the kind of frenzy normally reserved for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at Whistling Straits this week. Fans line every hole he plays, asking for his autograph and wishing him well. His mere appearance on the green prompts hearty applause. The governor gave him a shoutout. Some kids are even running around the course in bright green “Stricker’s Soldiers” T-shirts.

“Do I feel extra expectations? Yeah, I do,” Stricker said Wednesday. “Like I do every other week, I want to play well. But I REALLY want to play well here, you know what I mean?”

With snow covering the ground about half the year, Wisconsin is not exactly known as a breeding ground for golfers. Oh, it produces a standout here and there, but they usually leave their home state for warmer climates when it’s time to get serious about the game.

Which only endears Stricker more to his fellow Cheeseheads. The No. 3 golfer in the world still lives full-time in Madison, trading his clubs for blaze-orange camouflage in the fall.

Steve Stricker at 2010 PGA Championship
Steve Stricker returns home to Wisconsin for the 92nd PGA Championship. (Getty Images)
“I know this is a big deal to him,” said Mike Small, who played and roomed with Stricker at Illinois and now coaches the Illini. “I know he’s under maybe some self-imposed pressure, because he wants to win a major and it being in his home state.”

Not to mention that he missed out the last time Wisconsin played host to a major.

Stricker was one of the game’s rising stars in the mid-1990s, finishing fourth on the money list in 1996 and earning runner-up honors at the 1998 PGA Championship. Five years later, though, his career was in shambles. He made the cut just eight times in 2003 and, for the first time since turning pro, failed to record at least one top-10 finish.

The next year wasn’t any better, so much so that when the PGA made its first visit to Whistling Straits, Stricker wasn’t invited.

“It was difficult. My game, though, was not in any situation to be put on display, either,” said Stricker, who watched the tournament from home. “But it was kind of a shot in the arm, too, showing that I needed to get better and needed to put some extra work in.”

Scraping by on past champions status and sponsor exemptions, Stricker earned comeback player of the year honors in 2006 with seven top-10 finishes, including ties for sixth at the U.S. Open and seventh at the PGA. He became the first player to win the award twice – in consecutive years, no less – in ’07 with his first victory (The Barclays) in more than six years. He also was runner-up in the FedEx Cup and finished No. 4 on the money list.

“It was just dedication again. … And I figured I wasn’t really capable of doing anything else and just had to put the work together,” Stricker said. “I started hitting balls and started changing things, because what I was doing wasn’t really working all that well. A lot to do with it was my attitude. I had a poor attitude going. I didn’t have a lot of confidence.

“My mental approach and my physical game had to change, and that’s what I went to work on at the end of the 2005 season, beginning of 2006. And I still continue to work on the same things today.”

Since his comeback, Stricker has emerged as one of the tour’s most consistent players. He was part of the U.S. team that ended Europe’s Ryder Cup winning streak in 2008. He had his best season yet last year, winning three times and finishing in the top 10 eight other times.

He’s already won twice this year and, at No. 4 in the world, has an outside chance of claiming the No. 1 ranking this week.

“I like to think I’m wiser,” the 43-year-old said, when asked to explain his longevity. “I’ve had, obviously, my ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot through both those periods. But you can’t replace experience. You learn a lot throughout the course of your career. I’ve been able to experience a lot of different things, and you can use those to your advantage as you go along.

“It’s been a good run, and I would like to continue it.”

About the only thing Stricker lacks now is a major.

For all his consistency the rest of the year, Stricker hasn’t done particularly well in the majors. He has a handful of top 10s since 1998, but he hasn’t cracked the top five at a major in more than a decade.

“If I knew the key, hopefully I would have won by now,” Stricker said. “It’s a little more difficult in the final round of a major. Everything’s a little more intense, the pressure’s a little bit greater. You need to handle that.”

And that pressure will climb even higher this week.

Stricker is doing his best to treat the PGA like any other major. But even the drive to the course reminds him this week is something special – “It feels like home. All I see are corn, soybeans and cows.” – and it’s impossible to block out the love from all corners of Wisconsin.

“To play well in front of the home fans and my family and friends would be an unbelievable experience,” Stricker said. “But you can’t try to do it. You’ve just got to go about your business and take each shot, each day as it comes and try not to put that added extra pressure on myself. Hopefully I can do that.”

 

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 GolfChannel.com 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.