Steve Stricker still seeking wins

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Gary D'Amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sunday, April 13, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga.—Steve Stricker has his putter figured out. Now if he can get the right set of irons in his bag and drive it a little straighter, he’s confident good things will start to happen on the golf course.

“I’d love to win again,” he said. “My goal this year is to try to win again.”

The 47-year-old Stricker has won 12 times on the PGA Tour, but not since the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in 2012.

He won’t win the Masters today but he does have a good shot at his third top-10 finish at Augusta National. A third-round 73 left him in a tie for 18th place at 2-over-par 218 going into the final round.

Not bad for a guy who had played in just three tournaments going into the Masters and has struggled to get comfortable with a new set of irons. Stricker had to replace his 2010 Titleist AP2s because he wore out the grooves on several of them.

For years, he played a soft right-to-left draw with those irons. The new ones fly straighter, which is good and bad.

“The club is reacting a little bit differently,” he said. “They just don’t rotate through (the impact zone). They’re a little more face-balanced, so I don’t curve it as much. I’ve been used to playing a little draw and now they hang over to the right on me and then I’ll end up pulling it because I know I can’t turn it as much.

“I’m fighting that a little bit. They’re making clubs so straight and that’s good in some regards, but when I’m used to seeing the ball go a direction and now all of a sudden it doesn’t, that’s hard.”

The good news is that Stricker’s short game has never been sharper.

“I’m putting the lights out of it,” he said. “My short game is right on.”

He said his chipping and putting has bailed him out “a lot” this week. He is tied with three others for the fewest putts (81) through 54 holes.

“All week I’ve been putting really nicely,” he said. “I caught onto something early in the week and the putter has felt really good in my hands. This is the best I’ve ever putted around here.

“I’ve had only one three-putt and that came on No. 12 today, after I flared a 9-iron to the right. So that’s good. I’m chipping good. I drove it a little bit better today. I’m headed in the right direction.”

Stricker said his next start would be at The Players Championship, May 8-11, and that he probably would add “a couple” tournaments to his schedule before the U.S. Open in June.

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