Monday, June 6, 2011

Steve Stricker, and the Beauty of 44


I'll be honest - I have no idea what 44 must feel like. To me, being 44 is like being a freshman in college and hearing from graduates how fast the time flies by at university, only to roll your eyes and get back to the third Keystone Light. Being 44 is a number I can't fathom because I'm 27 and still have many broken feet to go before I reach that mark.

But it is men like Steve Stricker that make 44 look cool. A PGA Tour star that is now ranked fourth in the world after his impressive win at the Memorial, Stricker does everything (everything!) with class. He is the reason professional golfers still get a great rap despite the travails of Tiger Woods or the random drug test losers.

It hasn't always been easy for Stricker. This is a guy that now has ten PGA Tour wins, but seven of them have come since he turned 40. He was barely a golfer in the early part of this millenium, but the older he got, the better he understand his game. He figured out his driver. He worked on his fantastic putting stroke. He learned how to outsmart most of the field, and he did so with that steely look that speaks more about his personality than it does about his grit.

Asked on Sunday if he nows feels like a superstar in the game, Stricker answered as you'd expect:

No. No, I don't. I guess that's why I dodged that question over there when they asked about it. I've been up to No. 2 in the world, and I just go about my own business. I don't look at myself any differently. I don't -- I just go out and play, you know, and I try to play well. And I'm on a great run these last five or six years, and I just want to continue it.

It's interesting what this game will give you. For all the stories of the game taking away talent (read Duval, David and Daly, John), there are plenty of guys that found their games in their later years. Stricker might be the best example presently, but you can point towards Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh as men that started to play great golfer the older they got, when the idea of playing a golf course changed.

We can try to buy the longest driver or the hottest ball, but when you think about the best way to improve you golf game, it comes down to the greens and the putts and missing it in the right spot. To be good at golf, for the most part, you have to be smart about it. That's why every professional has a caddie to help them decide on the best route to take, because it really is a two-brain game.

Stricker seems to be one of the best at this. It's what makes him tick, and what puts him on a short list as the next American major championship winner. Sure, he is six years away from the Champions Tour, but sometimes that number doesn't matter. As long as you can make the same swing all the time, and be confident with every six-footer, you have a chance.

Remember; we are two years removed from a 59-year-old almost winning the British Open.

Getty Images

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