PGA Tour veteran Steve Stricker won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Monday to claim his 12th PGA title. It was his eighth victory in the last three years.
Stricker has aged like fine a wine.
He will turn 45 in February and seems to be in contention every week. He won three times in 2009, twice in both 2010 and 2011, and already has a win in 2012. At No. 5 on the Official World Golf Rankings, he is currently the highest ranked American player and has been in the top ten OWGR for 140 weeks.
Stricker joined the PGA Tour in 1994 and had three wins including the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play event before losing his card in 2004. He reworked his swing in 2005 by hitting balls at his home course in Madison, Wisconsin and returned to the PGA Tour via sponsor exemptions. In 2006, Stricker managed to eke out seven top tens, finish in the top 125, and he earned the 2006 PGA Comeback Player of the Year award.
He continued to improve and won the Barclay's in 2007, finished second to Tiger Woods in the FedEx Cup and won a spot on the Presidents Cup Team. He also won the PGA Comeback Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Most recently the John Deere Classic has become Stricker’s own personal ATM; he has won there the last three years.
Stricker has been on four Presidents Cup teams, amassing a record of 11-8-0 and he is 3-2-1 in two Ryder Cup appearances. More importantly, he has become the designated partner for Tiger Woods in team competitions. His steady, easy going, grind-it-out style seems to compliment Tiger perfectly.
The one area in which Stricker will have to improve if he is to become a legitimate contender for PGA Hall of Fame induction is his performance in majors. He has played in 51 major events with his best result being a second place finish in the 1998 PGA Championship and two T-5 in the U.S. Open.
With his seemingly unflappable play and first-class short game, it is hard to imagine Stricker not winning at least one major. At age 45, his time is growing short, however.
Steve has all of the numbers, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team success, a WGC event win, FedEx Cup Playoff tourney win and is the only player ever to win back-to-back Player of the Year honors. His career body of work only lacks a green jacket, Claret Jug, U.S. Open Trophy and a Wanamaker. Any of these accomplishments would make him a slam dunk for enshrinement at St Augustine.
Steve Stricker is a family guy, unassuming, humble, loyal to his roots, and a true Mid-American hero. He is already a Hall of Famer in the all around nice guy category.
Can he capture a major trophy for his mantle? That is all he lacks to get into the PGA Hall of Fame.