These days, Steve Stricker needs a calendar, an organizer, a travel agent and a whole pile of Post-it notes just to keep his comings and goings straight.
The 54-year-old golfer from Madison has so much on his plate, it looks like he went through the buffet line with a shovel.
Let’s catch up with our intrepid U.S. Ryder Cup captain, shall we?
He’s at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., this week, playing in the Chubb Classic on the PGA Tour Champions while simultaneously packing and moving his family out of their part-time home at Quail West, a few miles up I-75 from Tiburon. Stricker said he was considering shifting his winter base to central Florida.
“We actually just sold our home, so it’s been a crazy week,” he said Thursday. “We have to get out quick, so I’m balancing playing and packing. … It happened so fast. The market is good. You’ve got to take advantage of the market at the time, and it’s really good down here.”
Next week, he’ll make a reconnaissance trip to Whistling Straits to check out the host course for the 43rd Ryder Cup, now a little more than five months away. As the U.S. captain, Stricker has authority over important aspects of course set-up for the matches.
“We go home for just a few days and then I’ll drive over there and check things out,” he said. “The grass is just starting to grow there because the snow is gone … I’ll get to go around there and see some of the things that we’ve done there, see how it’s coming along.”
Then it’s off to Cincinnati to watch his daughter, Bobbi, tee it up for the University of Wisconsin women’s golf team in the Big Ten Championship, April 23-25 at TPC River’s Bend.
After that, it’s back down to Florida at the end of the month for the Valspar Championship, a PGA Tour event at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor. Stricker is splitting his time between the tours because he’s still competitive on the PGA Tour but also because of the opportunity it affords him to stay connected to prospective Ryder Cup team members.
Will Zalatoris, 24, moved onto Captain Stricker’s radar by finishing in a tie for second at the Masters on Sunday, displaying the kind of poise and confidence on one of golf’s biggest stages that could play well at the Ryder Cup.
Zalatoris was ranked 1,514th in the Official World Golf Ranking in April 2019 and now is No. 27. He’s also 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, having jumped 16 spots with his eye-opening performance at Augusta National.
“Yeah, very impressive,” Stricker said. “I reached out to him a couple days ago just to tell him how impressed I was with his play. I’ve never met the kid. Seems like a wonderful guy and obviously played great, so we’ll hook up along the way somewhere down the road and try to get to know him and watch his game up close. But very impressive how he handled the situation and how he played.”
Oh, and one more thing. The American Family Insurance Championship, the Champions tour event that Stricker hosts at University Ridge in Madison, is now less than two months away (June 11-13).
Despite his many responsibilities and obligations and a dizzying travel schedule, Stricker has managed to keep his game sharp. Since the start of 2021, he’s made four of six cuts on the PGA Tour and finished in the top three in his lone Champions appearance.
In February, he finished T-4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and T-3 at the Cologuard Classic. At the Phoenix Open, he posted four rounds in the 60s to produce a 17-under 267 total and finished just two shots behind winner Brooks Koepka. In March, he logged a T-13 finish at the Honda Classic.
“It’s been good,” he said of his game. “I’m excited about where my game is. I’ve been playing well. … If I could have made a few putts, I could have been right in there a little bit more, but my game has been good. I’ve had three weeks off, so I’m ready and raring to go this week.”
Stricker’s showing at the Cologuard Classic marked his fourth consecutive top-10 finish on the PGA Tour Champions. During that span, he has posted 12 straight subpar rounds, including eight rounds of 67 or better.
This is his third start at the Chubb Classic. He finished T-11 in 2019 and T-2 in 2018.