Monday, February 08, 2010

The Best In The World Not Named Tiger

Steve Stricker knows he doesn't have to cry every time he wins a golf tournament but he can't help it.

It's a sweet problem to have.

Stricker may be the nicest man in professional golf, with a sense of grace that's impossible to miss. Forget the media training some players get to teach them how to deal with the cameras and the questions.

Just look at how Stricker does it. That's the model.

By winning the Northern Trust Open Sunday -- his fourth win in 15 months -- Stricker jumped past Phil Mickelson and into the No. 2 spot on the world golf rankings. It's a remarkable story considering that five years ago, Stricker had virtually no status in professional golf.

His driver yips had become so severe he seriously considered abandoning the game. Once a star, Stricker had become a casualty of a cruel game.

He stuck with it, often in the cold solitude of Wisconsin where he worked through winters to find what he'd lost. Now he has it back and better than ever.

Stricker has a putting stroke that seems to have come from angels, which is the greatest asset a player can have. Tee to green, he's not spectacular but he gives himself chances and he's learned to seize those opportunities.

He doesn't have the sizzle that Tiger or Mickelson have but he has a quiet dignity. He's easy to pull for -- tears and all.