HUMBLE, Texas – Fresh off another win on the PGA Tour Champions, Steve Stricker is again changing gears to take on players half his age.
Stricker cruised to a three-shot win Sunday at the Rapiscan Classic, giving the 51-year-old two victories and a runner-up finish in three Champions starts this year. He also mixed in a T-12 finish earlier this month at the Valspar Championship to show that he can still hang on the PGA Tour, and this week he’ll make his 16th career start at the Houston Open.
Six years removed from his last win on the main circuit, Stricker admits that he’s been wrestling in recent weeks with how best to allocate his schedule as he straddles the demands of two different tours.
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“I’m taking any advice I can get because that’s been the hardest part, where I should play,” Stricker said. “I’m fighting with myself a lot of times. What’s the right thing to do? I still feel like I’ve got game enough to win and play well out here, and that’s what keeps me coming back out here. I would dearly love to win again out here on this tour, and that’s my goal so that’s why I continue to come out here.”
Unfortunately for Stricker, there’s no blueprint. Vijay Singh has made several starts on both circuits in recent years, while 53-year-old Davis Love III has stuck primarily to the PGA Tour. The key difference with those cases is that Singh and Love both have lifetime status on the PGA Tour after winning more than 20 times each, while Stricker – who has 12 PGA Tour titles to his credit – has no such luxury.
Stricker finished 115th in points last season, and he plans to make a few more PGA Tour starts in the coming months including The Players, Fort Worth Invitational and FedEx St. Jude Classic. He’s also planning to again try his hand at U.S. Open sectional qualifying come June, and he shared that part of his motivation for returning to Houston this week was a desire to snag the final Masters invite that will go to the tournament’s winner.
“It’s the last effort for me to try to get into Augusta,” Stricker said. “I played all four of the majors last year and I’m not in any of them this year, so I’ve got some work cut out if I want to play in some of those. It’s a long shot to come here and win, but hopefully play well and see what happens.”