Reaction from amateur @bobbistrick after a 5-over par 77 in the first round of her first professional event, as well as how @stevestricker thinks his daughter has progressed in her transition to golf #Road2LPGA #PHCClassic @BadgerWGolf pic.twitter.com/tORtipMYjq— Symetra Tour (@ROAD2LPGA) August 10, 2018
MILWAUKEE — The butterflies were there, flitting around in Bobbi Stricker’s stomach. She’d felt them 10 days earlier, when she held on to win the Badger Mutual Insurance Women’s Amateur, her first major tournament victory of any kind.
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This was the PHC Classic, though, a Symetra Tour event. Another level. Stricker, who started playing competitively just three years ago and is a redshirt sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, was playing alongside young professionals trying to make it to the LPGA Tour.
“I was really nervous at the beginning,” said Stricker, who earned her spot in the field by winning the Badger Mutual Insurance event. “I was kind of tense all the way around, but we had fun.”
With her mother, Nicki, on the bag and her father, Steve, walking along Friday, Stricker shot a 5-over-par 77 in the first round of the 54-hole event at the Brown Deer Park Golf Course.
She made the turn at 5-over and shot even par on the back nine, with a lone birdie on the par-3 12th (the front and back nines were switched for this event). Her playing partners, Symetra Tour veteran Kristin Coleman of California and rookie Celina Yuan of Australia, shot 71 and 74, respectively.
“I got better as it went on,” Stricker said. “The back nine was OK.”
She wasn’t the only family member feeling some nerves. Steve Stricker, a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, found out what it’s like to be on the other side of the gallery ropes.
“It is harder watching than playing,” he said. “My mom texted me this morning and she was like, ‘Now you know what dad and I have gone through all these years.’ I’m proud of her. It’s fun to see the growth. I’ve been thinking about it: this is only her third summer playing competitive golf. For her to win a tournament last week, I think it did a lot for her.”
In winning the Badger Mutual Insurance, Bobbi made nine birdies in an opening 66, her career low round, and followed with a 76 to win by two shots.
“I had never had a lead before,” she said. “I was so nervous. Sleeping on it was hard. I made some mistakes (in the final round) but I didn’t let it get the best of me. I think I bogeyed three holes coming in because I was a mess. It was definitely a learning experience that I’ll use for the future.”
Considering she’d played in just two collegiate events, both as an individual, it was a huge breakthrough.
“It gave her a ton of confidence, knowing she’s on the right track and she can do it,” Steve Stricker said. “She held on to win and that’s always a challenge. She broke through a lot of barriers last week and I think coming out here, playing in this event, she’s going to watch these other girls and she’s going to say, ‘Hey, my game isn’t that far off.’”
The scouting report on Bobbi is that she hits her driver straight and has good distance control with her irons. If her putting stroke looks familiar, it’s because she learned it from one of the best in the business; her father is regarded as one of the elite putters of his generation. She could use a bit of work on touch shots around the green and some upper body strength.
“She can get stronger, and she’s gotten stronger,” Steve said. “That’s been part of the process, too. She came out with not a lot of speed and she’s picked up speed. She’s now hitting it 10 to 15 yards past Nicki where before Nicki was hitting it past her. She’s gotten a lot longer in the last year.
“She’s just finding her way yet in the game and learning all these little things that it took all of us years to learn. She’s cramming it all into a couple year period. It’s amazing to me how much growth she’s shown. She couldn’t break 80 even last summer. She’s hitting way better shots.”
It helps that Nicki has been able to walk every step with her daughter these past two weeks. An accomplished player herself, Nicki caddied for Steve on the PGA Tour and has invaluable experience with a club in her hands or a bag over her shoulder.
“She is a huge help,” Bobbi said. “She helps me with my swing but also with the mental side. She knows what to say and what not to say. She keeps me level-headed.”
Bobbi has been accepted into the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the UW and is thinking about a career in social media. For now, she doesn’t feel the urge to follow her father in the family business.
“I think, though, that she’s kind of underestimating her want to play golf,” said Dennis Tiziani, Bobbi’s grandfather and the former men’s and women’s golf coach at Wisconsin. “She wants to play golf, even though she says no. I think way deep down, she wants to beat her mom, you know?”