Carding four wins in his last fifteen starts, including a victory at the Northern Trust Open this past weekend, Steve Stricker moves back into second place in the World Golf rankings—a position he held for three weeks last year. He could also possibly take first if he manages three victories while Tiger continues to sit.
While the inertia of the world rankings calculations probably preclude Stricker ever taking the number one position, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that at this juncture, Sticker is the best in the world.
Stricker doesn’t think so, though. When asked about a possible palace coup, Stricker replied: “No, I don’t allow that. We all know who the best player in the world is.”
Stricker’s rise in the rankings also puts him in position to claim the dubious distinction as the best player in the world not to have won a Major. Over the past decade, that’s been a title usually reserved for Sergio Garcia, although Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington also once wore that crown.
It’s remarkable that Stricker is in such a position, for just five years ago, he was out of of golf, losing his card and faltering in Q school. He played 2006 on sponsors exemptions, and climbed from 162 to 34 on the money list with seven top ten finishes in 17 events. That comeback was so remarkable that he won the Tour’s Comback player of the year in both 2006 and 2007. Now 43, Stricker’s at the top of his game.
I’ve been a fan of Stricker for a very long time, and as you can see in the photo above, actually own one several of his signature line golf shirts. I bought them more than a decade ago at Kohl’s and have to say that—like Steve—they’ve held up very well.
I don’t know what it is I have liked about Stricker. He’s a midwesterner—and that’s a plus. His demeanor is reserved, even self-effacing and he clearly appreciates the position he is in. I remember reading stories about Stricker working endless hours at a snowy driving range in Wisconsin and thinking that he was a kindred spirit.
It’s not much of a leap, but I’ll predict that Stricker gets his major this year, either at the Masters, or at the US Open.