Stricker slowing down, but he's not close to retirement

By Rex HoggardJune 2, 2015, 6:35 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – At 48 years old Steve Stricker hasn’t played more than 13 events in three years, he signed on to host a Champions Tour event starting next season in Wisconsin and is scheduled to play Monday’s 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier because, “I don't know how many of these I'm going to get to play.”

Just don’t suggest he’s closing in on retirement.

“I do feel like I'm going to work hard and keep my body in decent shape and play a limited schedule out here,” he said on Tuesday at Muirfield Village where he won in 2011.

“I think I've got exempt status out here until 52, so it will be fun to play some out here in some of the events that I've had some success at or where I enjoy going, [Memorial] being one of them or Colonial.”

While that may not seem like a surprise for a player who has won seven times on the PGA Tour since 2009, Stricker has embraced a less-is-more approach to his trade the past three seasons, limiting his schedule largely to the majors, World Golf Championships and a select few other starts.

In 2013, Stricker traded a full-time life on the road – which he had been a part of since joining the Tour in 1994 – for family and the languid pace of life in Madison, Wis.

Things got even slower when he underwent back surgery late last year following a run of hip and quad ailments that all stemmed from a bulging L5 disc in his back. He didn’t make his first start of the season until the Masters and he’s played just three times since on what he says is a cautious schedule.

“I'm finding it hard to put multiple days of practice together and tournaments together yet,” Stricker said. “But I have noticed that I still have some more strengthening to do and issues to kind of piece through and get through it.”

But while the body is reluctant, the mind remains strong. That’s always been Stricker’s greatest asset, even more than a silky putting stroke that has made him the circuit’s de facto putting coach for the likes of Tiger Woods.

This is, after all, the same guy who won twice in 1996, just his third year on Tour, before lapsing into the type of slump that sends most players looking for a day job.

In 2003, he finished 189th on the money list and failed to crack the top 125 in earnings for three consecutive years primarily because of a balky driver that produced a wild hook.

On Tuesday at the Memorial he was asked about his decision to play Monday’s U.S. Open qualifier for the first time since 2006, just as he began to emerge from his competitive crash, and his mind drifted back to those uncertain days.

He qualified for that year’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot and for two days proved to himself that his rebuilt driver swing could hold up under major championship pressure, carding rounds of 70-69 for the halfway lead.

“The [2006] U.S. Open really gave me a lot of confidence,” said Stricker, who tied for sixth place at Winged Foot. “I came out and I actually drove the ball really well in that position. That gave me a lot of confidence going forward. The things I've been working on obviously were working, they were holding up under the gun.”

The next season he would win The Barclays, the first of the new four-event FedEx Cup playoff series, and the Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year Award for the second consecutive season.

He has since become a leaderboard staple, joining one of just three players, along with Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan, to earn a trip to the Tour Championship in every FedEx Cup season before last season’s medical-induced miscue. He’s also a competitive anomaly in a sport that demands equal parts quality and quantity.

Consider that 10 of the top 15 players on the current FedEx Cup point list already have more than 13 starts with three majors, a World Golf Championship and four playoff events still looming on the schedule, yet that would be considered a “normal year” for Stricker.

There’s also that Champions Tour event, the American Family Insurance Championship – which he won’t even be qualified to play for another two seasons –yet he said he will happily embrace a ceremonial roll.

His history as a dogged competitor also lifted Stricker into the fringes of the conversation as a potential U.S. Ryder Cup captain, particularly following the changes to the traditional selection process made earlier this year.

He would be 53 when the matches are played at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., in 2020 and he didn’t shy away from the idea of taking the helm for a home game. 

“It would be fun. I don’t know that I’d get the opportunity, but it would be a welcome job especially with it being in Wisconsin,” Stricker said. “Even last year [when he was an assistant for Tom Watson], I’d rather be playing but it was still a great experience.”

All that, however, will have to wait. Despite a schedule and a body that may be leaning toward the golden years, Stricker will gladly hold a multitude of titles – part-time player, tournament host, potential Ryder Cup captain – but there’s one description he has no interest in – retired.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.