Life is good for Steve Stricker

By Jason SobelJuly 3, 2014, 7:13 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Life as a PGA Tour golfer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

OK, sure. You’re playing for millions of dollars every week. You’re featured on television. You’re famous. You have all the equipment at your disposal you could ever want. You drive around in pristine courtesy cars. You’re the object of envy from every guy in high school who poked fun at kids on the golf team.

Wait, what was the point again? Oh, right. Being a pro golfer is not always that great. There’s a lot of travel, often away from your family. If you don’t beat half the field, you don’t earn a paycheck. Injuries or swing problems or just plain bad luck can derail your career in a hurry.

So there you go: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Unless you’re Steve Stricker, that is.

Then it’s even better than advertised.

The Greenbrier Classic: Articles, videos and photos

Stricker is working for just the eighth week this year – and yet he remains the world’s 18th-ranked player. He spends more time in deer hunting blinds than on driving ranges. He is “semi-retired,” but unlike most people in that position, he gets paid to play golf rather than the other way around.

What a life.

As if things couldn’t get much sweeter, Stricker decided only about 10 days ago that he’d play this week’s Greenbrier Classic. His regular caddie, Jimmy Johnson, was already committed to another player, so he asked his former looper to take the bag – his wife, Nicki. They brought their two kids, turned it into a sort of working vacation here at what’s been deemed PGA Tour Summer Camp and through one round his name is already on the leaderboard.

Stricker posted an opening-round bogey-free 4-under 66 to get himself into early contention.

“I haven’t played that much,” he said after the round, “but I’m starting to get into the groove of things a little bit more and starting to play a little bit better golf of late. So it’s an exciting time for me to start playing and play this week and next week and see what happens.”

What happens next is just another example of how good it is to be Stricker these days.

Prior to the first round, he maintained that he would play the upcoming Open Championship only if his game was getting hot at the right time. That’s right – whereas most of his peers are gearing up for the year’s third major championship, Stricker hasn’t even decided whether he’ll play or not.

He’s leaning toward the latter, though. Just 14 days from the opening round at Royal Liverpool, he doesn’t have a plane ticket or a hotel room and certainly hasn’t been working on his stinger off the tee.

“I was thinking if I play well, maybe sneak out a win in one of these two or have a couple of high finishes, the British Open was a possibility.”

Yes, despite being a part-time player and owning just a single top 10 this year and competing in only one of the previous four weeks and two of the previous six and three of the previous nine and four of the previous 13, he still came here thinking about a victory.

He insisted that it’s all about keeping the right mindset.

“You spend a lot of time at home practicing and the shots really don’t matter, you know what I mean?” he said. “You can hit one offline and you’re like, it doesn’t mean anything. Then when you come out here, every shot means something. You’ve got to try and erase that out of your mind and do what you do at home when you’re practicing. So that, I think, is the challenge. You’re playing for keeps. Everything counts.”

So far, so good for Stricker.

Then again, when you rarely play competitive golf and can still go out and get your name on the leaderboard, that’s a familiar refrain.

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: