Stricker Fights Burnout and Torrey Pines

By Associated PressJune 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- A sizzling start briefly put Steve Stricker atop the U.S. Open leaderboard, not on top of the world.
The man who battled Tiger Woods down to the wire at the 2007 FedEx Cup playoffs has been fighting burnout over the last two months. Hes been unable to keep his mental focus long enough to break out of his slump and enjoy the game.
Ive hit a wall, said Stricker, whos been losing his concentration from one hole to the next, turning good starts into foul moods and leaving him watching on the weekend in his last four tournaments, beginning with his bafflingly poor performance at the Masters.
So when he made the turn Thursday at 4-under, thanks to four birdies in his first seven holes, Stricker knew he wasnt really going to conquer this course or his weariness, not on this day.
Trouble, as has been the case for so long, was waiting just around the corner.
A double bogey on the next hole, the par-4 No. 1, was the kindling for a plus-6 flameout on his second nine that left Stricker at 2-over, still a respectable score but a big letdown after such a spectacular start.
Im alive, Stricker said afterward. For a while there I was thinking about jumping in the canyon.
The double bogey, he said, didnt bother him as much as his inability to recover quickly, a trait that helped him win almost $8 million over the last 2 1/2 years and the 2006 and 07 comeback player of the year honors after he famously rebounded from a four-year slump that threatened to end his career.
It was a good start and then a bad backside, Stricker said. And youre going to do that at No. 1. Youre going to make a double, youre going to catch a lie in the rough that you cant get out of. That one didnt bother me. It was the next two holes that bothered me the most.
He pulled his 3-wood left on the par-4 No. 2, where his three-footer lipped out.
Then he misjudged the wind and hit a poor 9-iron on No.3, the 195-yard, par-3 with the pin tucked in the left corner. The ball rolled down a steep hill, leaving Stricker with an almost straight-up chip shot back onto the green.
The first one didnt quite make it and trickled back down to his spikes.
A second wedge shot just barely crawled over the lip, slowing spinning within six feet of the cup.
I was very lucky to make it in four, Stricker said. I kind of miscalculated the wind. It was more out of the right than what I had thought.
Its been the tale of really the last four tournaments. Im there. I show some signs of good play and then I disappear'my thinking, I dont know. I cant put a finger on it, but I disappear for a while mentally and then I fight to get it back, Stricker said.
Ive lost some confidence a little bit over the last couple of months.
Fellow Wisconsinite Jerry Kelly said hes not worried about his friend and neighbor the way he was several years ago when Stricker was fighting his demons as his world ranking dipped to 337th.
Kelly said Strickers game is closer than he thinks and he just needs to clear his head.
Which is exactly what Stricker is going to do.
Ive just kind of got tired and Im going to step away a little bit to do what I need to do and Ill make another run at it, said Stricker, who is trying to make his 11th cut in 13 Opens.
Hell start by tagging along with his wife, Nicki, at the Madison City womens tournament next week, although he emphasizes hell be carting his way around the course, not caddying.
Its a lot more fun than beating yourself up out there, he said, nodding toward the city-owned Torrey Pines course along the Pacific bluffs.
Hes also planning a three-day fishing trip, hoping to find the revelations on the lake that have eluded him on the links.
If you did this every day, youve got to do something different, dont you?
Since finding his game in 2006, Stricker has gone full-bore, catching his breath only at the end of the season.
After dueling with Woods in the FedEx Cup last September, he started this year by losing a playoff at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, followed by three more top-10 finishes that had him ranked fourth in the world.
Now, hes going to have to rejuvenate his game and rediscover his passion for the sport to have a shot at making his first U.S. Ryder Cup team, which seemed like such a sure thing not so long ago.
Ive come close maybe four other times throughout my career where Ive had an opportunity to make this team, he said. And Id hate to kind of let another one slip away.
But first things first.
First of all, play well here. Thats what I keep telling myself, he said. Ive got this to worry about, play well here.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

    LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

    View this post on Instagram

    Finally got it down lol

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

    Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

    View this post on Instagram

    How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

    Getty Images

    Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

    In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

    “Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

    Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).

    And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

    FILM 1

    Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

    Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 

    FILM 2

    Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

    The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 

    FILM 3

    Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

    In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

    Getty Images

    Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

    By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

    Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

    Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

    It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

    There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

    Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

    With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

    Getty Images

    USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

    By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

    Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

    The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

    “We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

    Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

    The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

    “These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.