Slow-starting Stricker earns tie for 12th
“I’m happy with the way I hung in there,” the Edgerton native said after a closing 72 on Sunday in steadily heavy winds and occasional rain at Royal St. George’s. “I got off to poor starts really the last two days and hung in there and played under par after the first four holes. It was just the starts that kind of killed me each day.”
Stricker made three bogeys in the first four holes on Saturday and Sunday, taking him out of the running for the claret jug and forcing him to grind the rest of the way to make up the lost ground.
He attributed the poor starts to contradictory preparation. The practice range faces the opposite direction as the first four holes and makes it tough to transition immediately into the winds the players had in their faces right out of the chute.
“You practice for 45 minutes on the range with a left-to-right wind and the first four holes are all right-to-left, and they’re hard holes,” Stricker said. “I couldn’t reach No. 4 both days, and we were up a tee. It’s a tough start, and I didn’t do very well on those first few.”
Still, it was a satisfying week for the No. 5 player in the world. After two previous years of below average results in the British Open after arriving immediately off of wins at the John Deere Classic, Stricker was encouraged by his tie for 12th this time after winning again at Deere Run.
“I actually played pretty well all week, just a few shots here and there every day,” he said. “But I hung in there nicely and finished well.”
Stricker had finished in the top 10 in 2007-08 when he came over early to prepare instead of playing in Silva, Ill., the week before. This result made it easy for him to commit to returning to the John Deere in the future.
“I’ll be there next year again,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be there every year.”
St. George’s provided a stern test for the field in dealing with not only the quirks on the undulating course but just about every manner of wind and weather pattern.
“Nothing’s been easy, not even 2- and 3-footers,” said Stricker. “You had to work hard on every shot.”
As the top ranked American in the world, Stricker was pleased to see so many countrymen in the hunt on Sunday while the world’s No. 1 and 2 from England were already at home after missing the cut. Even though the Americans all faltered and allowed another European Tour player to win a sixth consecutive major, the showing of the stars and stripes was promising with five of the six players behind winner Darren Clarke being U.S. stars.
“They’re enjoying their time at the top and letting you know about it at times, too,” Stricker said of the European guard ahead of him in the rankings. “I’ve said all along it’s a cycle.
“The Americans dominated with Tiger and Phil for a lot of years, and the majority of them were at the top (of the rankings). Now it’s Europeans and they deserve to be up there.
“But the Americans will fight our way back. I think there’s some incentive there to play well seeing all the Europeans at the top. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wanted an American to win. One might not win, but it’s a pretty strong showing.”
Stricker will take two weeks off before returning to play the WGC event at Firestone and the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. Then he’ll contend for the FedEx Cup where he sits No. 2 in the standings, close behind leader Nick Watney.
Stricker finished tied for 66th in the 2001 PGA in Atlanta, the highlight of the week being a 65 in the second round.
“I’m looking forward to these two week off,” he said. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks and a lot of excitement in there. It’ll be fun to go home and prepare from there.”