12/26/2014

Steve Stricker went under the knife in Madison this week to repair a back injury which had been ailing him since the 2014 PGA Championship (where he went 69-68-68-68 for T7).

The exact procedure was “to relieve issues stemming from acute and chronic L5 radiculopathy.” I can’t say I know what this means, but I hope the result of the surgery means good things for the 47-year old Strick. He had the surgery at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, Steve’s hometown.

Much has been made of reduced schedules by the top players on the PGA Tour. Stricker only played 12 events in 2014. The minimum of events used to be 15, but was changed to 12 before the 2013 season. Stricker fulfilled his commitment. Take a look at his results:

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Over the holidays, my dad was quoted as saying, “Steve Stricker is the man. If I played on Tour, I would do it the way he does. 10-12 events, contention and a couple top-10s then go home and lay around.”

Stricker’s shorter schedule may be what he needs to close his career strong. Undergoing surgeries at almost 50 years of age doesn’t always bode for a optimistic future, but with Stricker’s care for his body and durability, I think he still has a strong seasons left on the PGA Tour.

Remember when Phil Mickelson announced he was going to do this? It was all in pursuit of his coveted, missing major title– the US Open. For Stricker, I’m not convinced the decision was made as directly as Mickelson’s regarding a major championship.

With 12 PGA Tour wins to his name and some $40 million in career earnings, one of the only glaring holes on Stricker’s resume is the absent major championship. What does notching random top-10s do for a man with money in the bank and trophies on his mantle?

Deep down, I know Steve wants a major championship. His game is suited for the likes of a PGA or a US Open. The man is potent with his wedges and year-in-year-out, finds himself ranked among the top putters on Tour. He drives the ball well and is regarded as consistent all-around.

He’s had high finishes in majors before with 12 top-10 finishes in majors. Of those 12 though, only 3 have been top-5s and his last top-5 came in 1999 at the US Open.

But at the end of the day, only one person has anything to do with a Steve Stricker major championship and successful finish to his PGA Tour career. And that man, seems quite optimistic following surgery.

“I’m very excited to get back to practicing and competing in 2015 and expect to be 100 percent physically, which really excites me.” said Stricker.

So we will see. His biggest fans, including myself, will be hoping he can come back as strong as ever.