Steve Stricker, of Madison, Wisconsin was excited when he found out the 2017 U.S. Open would be played in his home state. So elated he wanted to help the USGA along the way to 2017.
Stricker served as a player consultant to the USGA and Erin Hills once the decision was made.
“They wanted a player to go around there, and I was in on it from the start kind of. It’s right there in our backyard. “That’s the only reason that’s driving me, really,’’ Stricker said. “It’s there in my home state. I walked around with the USGA and the original owner Bob Lang when [the course] was built. I was with Mike Davis [the USGA’s executive director] and the owner, and they were talking about the possibility of a U.S. Open there.
And of course, Stricker had no doubt he would get the chance to play in a U.S. Open in his home state which he loves so much.
Stricker played a prominent role in the 2017 US Open, even having a page length welcoming letter from him in the official U.S. Open program. .
At the start of the 2013 season, Stricker announced he would cut his schedule “in half,” hoping to play just “10 or 12”. When he did play he was very competitive and successful. His reasons were to spend more time with his family for the 12 time PGA Tour winner.
Because of that cutback on his schedule, and the fact he was playing some on the Champions Tour, he was not exempt in this year’s U.S. Open, so he wrote a letter to the USGA asking for a special exemption. His request was denied.
Fans and fellow players were upset. After all this home town boy helped make the U.S. Open at Erin Hills a reality and by the way, how can he be good enough to welcome everyone to the U.S. Open in the official program but yet not good enough to play in it?
While he has spoken of his disappointment about that rejection, he said that he knew all along it was a long shot and holds no grudges. He said USGA officials Mike Davis and Jeff Hall both called him and “just apologized to no end.”
“I was fine with that, I really was. But then as I kept going on, I was like, you know, I really want to play here. This is our first U.S. Open. Then I had more and more people come up to me and say, hey, why aren’t you in? And pretty soon it became a little chip on my shoulder that I had to work a little bit harder to try to get in.”
Stricker grew up in a blue collar town and his Dad was an electrician. Nothing was ever given to Stricker and ever since he has earned everything he has achieved.
So he did what he was taught to do by his father at an early age and he went to work, except this time on his golf game.
After the United States Golf Association denied his request for a special exemption, he went out and won a 36-hole sectional qualifier.
“I think this story, the reason why it’s a little bigger than normal for me is I was declined the invite and then I went to work and got in on my own,” he said. “I think that’s Wisconsin people in general. I think it’s that blue-collar Wisconsin mentality that people work hard here. That’s what I had to do to get in.”
Stricker, 50, of Madison, shot a final-round 69 on Sunday and finished in a tie for 16th place in the U.S. Open.
Stricker received a standing ovation from the home crowd as he walked up the 18th fairway. “That was really nice, I don’t get a lot of those”, said Stricker.
Stricker told the media earlier in the week that after the few years of cutting back on his schedule his family has encouraged him to play more now. “It really makes sense. My kids are older, and my wife and family come with me just about everytime I play, so why not play more. We will all still be together,” said Stricker.
“As long as I can get in them, I’ll play them,” Stricker said of the majors. “This one was a challenge to get in but I’m in the British and if I keep playing well enough I’ll be in the PGA. So I’m excited about playing in all four of them this year.”
“But I’ve enjoyed this experience. It’s been unbelievable. The amount of support that I’ve received every hole I walk up to, every tee box, it’s been unreal. The standing ovation on 18, it’s been really cool. I wanted to experience our first U.S. Open more than anything here in our state. I’m glad I went through it and I’m glad I’m here.”
“That was the most satisfaction that I’ve had in awhile,” he said, “just knowing that I made it and I was going to be here to play. I feel like I belong here. No one gave me a spot. So as it all turned out, it was meant to be the way
Stricker’s wife, Nicki, who caddied for him at Erin Hills, said there was no reason for her husband to stop playing in majors.
“It’s just so simple, what he does, how he does it, how he goes about it,” she said. “If he stays healthy, yeah, I think he will keep playing in these. He putts well. He can get it around.”
This week, Stricker will play in the American Family Insurance Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event he hosts at University Ridge in Madison. Stricker said his wife probably won’t caddie for him, “She is pretty tired after this week at Erin Hills.”
“I’d love to play well and see if I can’t win one on the Champions tour,” he said. “But it’s a totally different feel and atmosphere than what I just did here this week.”
So Steve Stricker is back and we are the lucky ones because he will be playing more and we will again admire his beautiful swing, as he goes about his work professionally and admired as one of the best to ever play the game.
Steve Stricker The “Savage”
So what does this story have to do with a “Savage?” If you followed golf a couple years ago you had to of seen the now infamous Avis Car Rental Commercial. Stricker was really Steve Stricker and the commercial didn’t require much acting on his part.
In one scene he describes himself as a “Savage.” Steve Stricker is a lot of things, all good, but a Savage he is not, thus the humor in the commercial below you must watch.