Steve Stricker | 2018 QBE Shark Shootout

Steve Stricker | 2018 QBE Shark Shootout

Steve Stricker of Madison has pushed the re-set button on his 2019 season.

After playing nine combined events on the PGA Tour and the PGA Tour Champions, without much success on the former and without a victory on the latter, Stricker became ill and had to withdraw from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a team event he was scheduled to play with partner Jerry Kelly.

“I hit the wall,” Stricker said in a telephone interview with Wisconsin.Golf. “I got sick. I went up to watch Virginia win the (NCAA) national championship and I came down with something. It lasted about three weeks. Bronchitis and a sinus infection.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, he discovered that the KBS shafts he has played in his irons for about seven years had worn out and possibly contributed to his less-than-stellar play.

“I’d been taking the (shafts) from one set of clubs to another,” he said. “I went to do that again at the Valspar (Championship in late March) and a guy called me and said, ‘You can’t use this shaft anymore. All the tips are bent. You’ve been playing with some defective shafts.’

“They wear out, so I’ve been trying to find heads and shafts. It’s been a process.”

Stricker is putting new shafts, new club heads and a new ball into play this week at the Regions Tradition, a PGA Tour Champions major.

“It’s kind of wait and see,” he said. “But I’ve been working at it. I’m excited to play.”

The Regions Tradition is the first of four consecutive tournaments for Stricker. He’ll play in the PGA Championship next week – as the 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, he was given a spot in the field – and then will play in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, May 23 through 26, and the Memorial Tournament, May 30 through June 2.

He won at Colonial in 2009 and won the Memorial in 2011.

Stricker, 52, said he was inspired by Tiger Woods’ victory in the Masters last month.

“Sure was,” he said. “It was very cool to see the support of the people there around the 18th green and to feel the love of everybody and to see his reaction with his kids. I thought was really neat. He came full circle from 1997 when he hugged his dad. It was cool to watch.”

Gary has covered golf in Wisconsin since 1980 and is a multiple award winner in the GWAA writing contest. He was inducted into the WSGA Hall of Fame in 2017 and joined Wisconsin.Golf in 2018 after a distinguished career at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.