Stricker ready to re-join PGA Tour

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Gary D'Amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
February 6, 2015

Steve Stricker is recovering from back surgery, turns 48 on Feb. 23, hasn't won in more than three years and has slipped out of the top 50 (No. 52) in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Stricker is a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour who was twice named comeback player of the year and won the 2012 Payne Stewart Award for “character, charity and sportsmanship.”

But if you think his career is winding down, think again.

Stricker, an Edgerton native who resides in Madison, is looking forward to playing golf pain-free after battling chronic hip and back pain for years. He also approaches the 2015 season with a clear mind, having dealt last year with his older brother Scott's lengthy illness.

Scott Stricker died in October from complications of Crohn's disease. He was 51.

“Last year I had that thing going on with my brother, and I felt like the whole year flew by and I wasn't that focused on golf,” Stricker said. “I want to get back in that winner's circle again. It's been a few years. I'm excited to get out and play and excited I got this surgery done.”

It's not as if 2014 was a terrible year. Stricker earned $1,154,747 in 11 starts and had several good finishes, including a tie for seventh at the PGA Championship and a tie for 13th at the Players Championship.

He also kept alive his streak of consecutive cuts made, which stands at 35 and is second longest on tour behind Adam Scott (44).

Stricker underwent surgery for a bulging disk just before Christmas and still hasn't been able to make full swings or even chip yet.

“It's coming along,” he said. “I'm not doing a lot yet. I'm starting to work out a little bit. I've been walking a couple miles almost daily. I saw the doctor last week and he said I could start doing some stationary bike stuff, so I've been doing that.

“It feels good. All my pain and tingling and numbness is gone.”

He said he was not sure when he would be given the green light to swing a club or when he would return to the PGA Tour, though he plans to play in the Masters Tournament in April.

“I'm hoping to play once before Augusta,” he said. “I'm not sure when that's going to be yet. Then I'll play the Masters. That's the goal.”

Stricker said he would play in 12 to 14 tournaments but likely would skip the FedEx Cup playoffs. He missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2007, the inaugural year.

He also plans to spend extra time preparing for the PGA Championship, Aug. 10-16 at Whistling Straits in Kohler. He tied for 18th in the 2010 PGA at the Straits.

“I plan on making a few trips there this year prior to the PGA to get a feel for it more,” he said. “It's kind of a visually challenging course. …

“I enjoy going there. It's kind of a big golf course. It favors the guy who hits it fairly long, like a lot of golf courses nowadays.”

Stricker will be eligible for the Champions Tour in two years but has some unfinished business left on the PGA Tour.

“I still feel like I've got things to prove,” he said. “I think that's the nature of golf and what we do for a living. There's always something we feel like we can improve and do better. I want to get back to playing some good golf.”

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