Stock Watch: Stricker rises to the occasion

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Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Duf (+8%): Jason Dufner: Historically resilient? Only one player in the past 35 years has shot a score worse than Dufner’s Saturday 77 and still gone on to win (Kenny Knox). Sublime ball-striking allowed him to do it, but don’t discount his flinty determination.  

Family-first Phil (+5%): That Mickelson will put aside his Open aspirations to attend his daughter’s high school graduation wasn’t the surprise. No, the surprise was that the local hero couldn’t get the small private school to move the ceremony!

Steve Stricker (+4%): Denied a rare special exemption by the USGA, and unable to meet the world-ranking requirement, the 50-year-old medaled in the 36-hole sectional qualifier in Memphis to earn a spot in the U.S. Open in his home state. Hard to imagine a better pre-tournament story than that.   

Lee McCoy (+3%): A hard-luck case last year, after he broke his wrist in a car accident en route to Q-School, the former Georgia star blew away the field with a record-breaking performance in the season-opening event on the Mackenzie (Canadian) Tour. Now he’s one step closer to the Web circuit.

Bubba (+1%): Love him or loathe him, he’s a fascinating, quirky player who emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, at The Memorial, his first top-10 in a full-field Tour event in 15 months. Golf needs more polarizing dudes like Bubba.


FALLING

Rickie (-1%): This could have been a helluva stretch for Fowler, who had legitimate chances to win in three of his past four stroke-play starts. Instead, he went 0-for-3, after playing his last seven holes at Muirfield Village in 2 over and fueling the detractors who say he can’t close (final-round scoring average: 98th on Tour).

Si Woo Kim (-3%): That’s WD No. 5 (or 6, depending on your definition) this season for The Players champion, although this time it wasn’t his ailing back that flared up – he injured his ankle while playing a bunker shot in the third round.  

Rankings software (-4%): The LPGA trumpeted the arrival of a new world No. 1 in Ariya Jutanugarn … except the Thai star didn’t move to the top spot, thanks to a “bug” in the projections. Indeed, Lydia Ko is still No. 1 for the 85th consecutive week – by .01 points.

USGA (-5%): Judging by comments made Sunday by Adam Scott, it’s clear the blue blazers have already been put on notice for Erin Hills, after their last two U.S. Opens (and several others before that) were marred by setup issues and a rules controversy. There’s no need to trick up Erin Hills, but that hasn’t stopped the USGA before.

Tiger (-8%): A ruthless, intimidating presence for much of his career, Woods, after a slew of debilitating injuries and his latest public embarrassment, is now a sympathetic figure, as evidenced by Martin Kaymer’s impassioned stop-being-so-nasty defense on social media. Seriously: Who could have seen that 180 coming a decade ago?