US Ryder Cup Captain Stricker Proves He Still Has Plenty Left in the Tank
US RYDER CUP captain Steve Stricker proved that he still has plenty of game himself by winning the US Senior Open at Warren Golf Course by six shots with a 72-hole total of 261. The 52-year-old American led from start to finish.
Stricker, 52, with wife Nicki on his bag, entered the final day with a six-shot lead and cruised to a round of 69 to win the 40th Senior Open by six strokes ahead of Jerry Kelly and defending champion David Toms.
“Obviously it stung but I think he still had his sights set here as well,” said Nicki Stricker, who had taken a long hiatus from caddying after the birth of the couple’s two daughters. “If he does go ahead and win there, does he come here with the same (outlook)? I think it stung enough that he was on a mission this week more so than he would have been.”
Stricker’s dominant performance included a run of 57 holes without a dropped shot - a run that started after a bogey on the par-four sixth hole on Thursday and ended at Sunday’s 10th hole. The previous record at a U.S. Senior Open was 43 bogey-free holes by D.A. Weibring in 2004.
The closest Kelly got was five shots after a two-shot swing at the 10th. Stricker later chipped in from just off the front of the green at the 12th to end any doubts about the outcome.
“That chip-in at 12 was huge,” Stricker said. “Nicki and I had been talking about how we’d been looking for a chip-in. Right before I said, ‘I’m still looking for that chip-in.’ She said, ‘I am too.’ Maybe the power of us both thinking that made it come true.”
Stricker, who finished the tournament on 19 under par, fell one shot shy of matching Fred Funk’s event record for most shots under par, set a decade ago at Carmel’s Crooked Stick Golf Club.
“This is an area that I grew up playing in,” he said. “Maybe not particularly right here, but in the Midwest. I’m playing on the same type of grass that I always played on growing up as a kid and then in college, so there’s a definite comfort level that I enjoy being here.”
Stricker 44 of 54 greens through the first three rounds and was able to coast after starting the final round with a birdie.
His biggest fans. ???? pic.twitter.com/gHKg0UdmxK— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) July 1, 2019
Nicki Stricker said her husband asked for her help on just one putt this week. And he missed it.
Named in February as U.S. captain for the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in his native Wisconsin, Stricker is still playing on both the PGA and Champions Tour. “I still enjoy playing on the regular tour, and I enjoy competing out here as well,” Stricker said. “I’ve been still bouncing back and forth. Being the captain, I feel like I need to continue to be out there, see the guys. I’ve played with a few this year that potentially could be on the team, guys that I don’t know as well as some of the older players. I feel like that’s important.”
It was Stricker’s fifth win in 20 career starts on the Champions Tour. A 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, he also has 16 career second-place finishes and 10 thirds at the game’s highest level. He is 15th in career tour earnings with more than $44m but insists that this victory tops his career achievements. “I had some good U.S. Open finishes, but this is it,” he said. “Anytime you can win a USGA event, it’s a great feeling. This one here is probably the top. It’s a very special day.” The win also secures him a place in next year’s US Open at Winged Foot.
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