Stricker stayed, and it paid off
Steve Stricker did not originally plan on being in the United States, let alone Silvis, Ill., this past week.
He must be glad he did. Stricker won the John Deere Classic, adding $774,000 to his impressive earnings total this season.
The 42-year-old Edgerton native had to be talked into playing in the John Deere Classic because he wanted to prepare for the British Open this week. Stricker flew to Scotland after winning the tournament and will play the Turnberry course for the first time in a practice round.
Still, winning the John Deere Classic probably did him more good than spending several practice rounds at Turnberry.
“I have a lot of confidence after this week,” he said.
He admitted that he tried to take on the attitude of proven winners as he went through the 36-hole final day.
“Obviously, Tiger (Woods) was right there,” he said of his thought process. “I thought about Hal Sutton, when he took down Tiger at the Players Championship. I thought about him and just try and step up and hit the shot and be aggressive and try to control my own destiny. I thought I did that today.
“I thought I did a lot better job at that than I have in past tournaments,” Stricker said. “That was very gratifying and fun to do. That’s why we’re out here. It was a lot fun for me.”
The John Deere Classic has the challenge of attracting players the week before the British Open. Stricker knows that is a tough draw.
“It’s just in a tough spot on the schedule,” he said. “I mean, the last couple years I didn’t come here because I wanted to get over to the British early and try to prepare. It just worked out that I could come this year. I’m glad I did.”
Stricker also would love to play in this week’s U.S. Bank Championship at the Brown Deer Park GC. But the lure of playing in, and possibly winning, a major will keep him away from the Wisconsin tournament.
“It’s disappointing that I won’t be able to go there next week,” Stricker said. “Hopefully, someday they get out of that opposite-date position, and I can play it again. But I’ve got to go play the major.
“(There’s) just too many positive things that can happen if you play well in a major. There’re Ryder Cup points available and just all sorts of things, especially if you were to go ahead and win one.
“But I do miss going there and seeing all the family and friends that are usually there with me,” he said. “I guess it’s been disappointing, but I guess I gotta do what I gotta do. Jerry (Kelly) is going to be there this year. That’ll help.”
He was already thinking about Turnberry when he spoke after his second championship of the season.
“Hopefully I can sleep,” he said. “I’m already thinking about next week. It’s gonna be a short three days, you know, of practice and trying to get accustomed to the time change and the course and the weather and all that kind of stuff.”
Stricker now has won two tournaments in one season for the second time in his career. He plans to carry his momentum to Scotland.
“I don’t put a number on wins,” he said. “Obviously a goal of mine at the start of every year is to win and to get to Hawaii at the start of the following year.
“But I’ve been wanting to maybe get the opportunity to win in a major…trying to have the chance of coming down the stretch in a major. I had that opportunity this year at the Masters really for a little while until I kind of sputtered out there in the middle of the round on the back nine.
“But that’s what we’re out here to try to do: play well and win golf tournaments.”