Stricker Strictly Striking Saturday

By Brian HewittJuly 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
Steve Stricker just keeps coming back.
 
Last season he was the PGA TOURS Comeback Player of the Year, climbing from No. 162 to 34 on the money list and making 15 of 17 cuts despite limited status.
 
You dont want to win that award too many times, Stricker said cautiously.
 
Prior to that he lost his card in 2004 and questioned his desire to play the game that was his living. I wasnt sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, he said.
 
And worse, he added, I beat myself up for a while.
 
At the root of his problems was a driver swing that produced either snap hooks or high blocks. He found a way around it for a while thanks to putting and pure talent. At the 1998 PGA Championship at Sahalee he finished second to Vijay Singh despite never taking driver out of the bag all week.
 
But the spiral continued downward. Finally, through sure dint of hard work, Stricker straightened his way out of what had turned into a nightmare slump.
 
And suddenly now the 40-year-old Stricker finds himself poised to come all the way back from the cant miss label he earned 11 years ago when he won twice on TOUR, including a tour de force victory at the 1996 Western Open where he spent the week hitting medium and short irons into the par 5s and beating everybody in the field by eight shots.
 
Suddenly Steve Stricker finds himself poised to surge Sunday in the final round of the Open Championship if Sergio Garcia stumbles.
 
Garcia and Stricker will be the last twosome off at Carnoustie where the Spaniards lead is three over Stricker, whose lead over a group tied for third, is also three.
 
Until last year, Stricker had been down so long it looked like up thanks to injuries and the chronic wildness with the driver. He still gets emotional talking about it and those scars surfaced during a post-round interview.
 
This is part of my problem, Stricker said, fighting back tears. I need to get tougher on the inside.
 
The unassuming Stricker was plenty tough Saturday at Carnoustie where he spent just 23 putts while authoring a competitive course record of 7-under 64 which left him 6-under for the week. The 64 was one shot off the lowest score ever carded by anybody in a major championship anywhere.
 
Stricker birdied his first three holes and four of the first five en route to an outgoing 31. Stout par saves at Nos. 15 and 18 coming home kept his round bogey free. In his words, it was a clean card.
 
And it would have pushed him even closer to the lead if Garcia hadnt fashioned a clean card of his own to cement the 54-hole lead at 9-under. The previous lowest Open Championship rounds at Carnoustie were the 65s turned in by Garcia Thursday and Aussie Jack Newton in 1975.
 
A quick statistical check shows we shouldnt be surprised. Stricker entered the week ranked second in Rd. 3 scoring average on the PGA TOUR. He has also pushed his way up to No. 16 in the Official World Golf Ranking and 11th on the FedExCup point standings.
 
So how has Stricker done on Sundays this year?
 
His TOUR scoring rank is 64th in that category. Garcias is 38th.
 
Stricker has hit 31 of 45 fairways the first three rounds ands isnt afraid to unsheathe the driver any more. By comparison, two-time defending champion Tiger Woods has struggled off the tee and fought his swing all week. Woods trails Garcia by eight shots.
 
Ive still given myself a chance to win, Woods said after a Saturday 69.
 
But Strickers chances are better. He finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Open last year and was hanging around the top of the leaderboard late Sunday at Oakmont in last months U.S. Open.
 
Yes, Stricker still has self-doubts, a golfing character flaw Garcia has shown no signs of evidencing this week. But Garcia, who carries the hopes of Europe and the burden of having never won a major championship, will face more pressure.
 
If you have ever met Steve Stricker, you know why it is impossible not to like him personally. It was very difficult this week for him to skip his home game and fifth major'The U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, an event he hadnt missed since 1990.
 
This is his first British Open since 2002.
 
But Steve Stricker is back. Hes back at the Open Championship. Back at the top of the leaderboard. And back from the depths.
 
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    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

    The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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    Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

    “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

    “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”