This Week in Golf

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This Week in Golf

Postby Lefty on Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:18 pm

Stricker moves to #2 in World Ranking

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. It would be hard to find a more consistent player over the past 2-3 seasons than Stricker, yet his self-admitted lack of flash and flamboyance has kept him under the radar. But that's just how he likes to fly. He has a painfully boring, simple golf swing that has the most expert of golf guru's perplexed. There has to be more to it than a few weeks of practice in a heated trailer back in Wisconsin, right? Not really.

In 2004, Stricker's game was on a downward spiral. In 27 events, he only managed to play the weekends in 13 of them. The following season would be so bad that Stricker would have to earn his playing privileges via Q-school. Except that didn't go so well either. He tied for 42nd, and suddenly found himself at a crossroad in life. "It was the worst. I had no purpose in golf. Something had to change, and a psychologist or teaching instructor wasn't going to help me find it. I realized that it was up to me." Or else. For the first time in years, Stricker was having to seriously consider a career other than playing golf for a living.

Enter a mirror, a mat, and a heated driving range in Madison, Wisconsin. That's where Steve spent hours and hours working on his game that winter, trying to shorten a golf swing that had gotten way too long and finding a remedy for a flying elbow that had basically plummeted him to 337th in the World. The search had officially began.

Patient, purposeful... that would describe those months just following that Q-school nightmare, as he worked on his game at the heated range in the cold winter of Wisconsin. Little did Steve know that as he would look in that mirror to check his posture and the positions of his golf swing, the guy looking back at him would see the makings of a guy who would make one of the greatest comebacks on tour in decades... a comeback so genuinely pure that he would not only win comeback player of the year honors in 2006, where without a tour card he finished the season 34th on the tour money list, but he would become the only player to ever win the honor twice, again being voted the 2007 comeback player of the year. I guess that puts some perspective on just exactly how bad being 337th in the world really is. Since turning the corner in 2006, his body of work on tour has been impressive to say the least. In 4 years, Stricker went from seriously considering leaving the game to amassing 5 wins, 6 runner-ups, and 36 Top 10 finishes.

Being officially crowned as the second best player in the world on Monday, Stricker suddenly finds himself flying above the radar now.... and soon enough he'll have to face the infamous question from the sports writers and media about what it feels like being considered the best player in the world to not have won a major... and that's something that he'll have to find a way to deal with. But then again, maybe through this process a newer, greater purpose will reveal itself. In the meantime, enjoy it, Steve. You've more than earned it.

The pains of youth
Not sure what's harder to believe... being the 7th ranked player in the world after only two seasons as a professional, or being 20 years old and having back problems. Rory McIlroy has let on about a nagging back issue that has bothered him in the past, but it got so bad that he had to see a specialist last week to get it checked out. Turns out that the scan revealed nothing more than stretched ligaments, something he blames on an aggressive practice routine to ready him for the upcoming season. He'll take this week off, but is expected to play in the WGC Matchplay Championship coming up next week, where I suspect he'll do rather well if he's pain-free. ;)

Let's here it for the old guys
The Mechanic fine-tunes his game in Dubai: Just shy of 46 years and most likely with his Ryder Cup days behind him, Miguel Angel Jimenez held it together long enough this weekend in Dubai to beat Europe's finest, Lee Westwood.

Maybe the 2009 British Open wasn't a fluke: Tom Watson must be finding like his 4th wind or something. Two weeks ago he beat Fred Couples in the Champions Tour season opener in Kona, Hawaii, birdieing the final two holes to steal the show. He shot 65 in the final round, 22 under for the tournament. That's over THREE rounds, folks, not four. Then the 60-yr-old Watson impressively made the cut in Dubai this past weekend with the young bucks. Not just making the cut, mind you, but finishing in a tie for 8th....

Long live the King: Arnie Palmer turned 80 last Thursday. Hard to believe.....

Oh no you didn't....

So Fred Couples admires the statement that Phil made with gaming the old Ping LW last week. He admired it so much that Couples decided to game it himself this week at Riviera, to support Mickelson. Only problem -- Phil decided he'd gotten the point across and went back to his conforming wedges. Per the PGA website:
Freddy: "I said, 'I think that's strong, and I'm going to use one next week," Couples said. "He said, 'Man, I think that's great.' I get out here and he's not using it." :|
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