Given a chance, Stricker hopes to contend at home U.S. Open

By GIDAL KAISER

June 15, 2017

TOWN OF ERIN — Steve Stricker paused for a moment.

Then he looked at his watch Tuesday, adding more dead time to the air during his news conference. “I would have been about on the second hole with my daughter, probably, caddying,” he said to laughter. “Like I said, she’s down in Racine today, first round of the Women’s State Open.”

Bobbi Stricker participated in the Wisconsin Women’s State Open on Tuesday and Wednesday in Racine, and she tied for 22nd with a two-round 172. Steve Stricker, her father, would have been her caddy for the event had he not qualified for today’s 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills.

“We can do something as a family. ... So there are always things to do to take your mind off of it,” Stricker added of what he would have done had he not qualified for the Open.

Stricker also wrote an exemption letter to the United State Golf Association, hosts of the U.S. Open, but pretty much knew his request would be rejected.

“I really had no hopes of getting a positive response back, and that came true. They were right on about that,” Steve said. “I was fine with that — they were very professional. (Executive director) Mike Davis called me, (Managing director of rules) Jeff Hall called me, and just apologized to no end. And I was fine with that. I really was.”

But the itch — “I really want to play here” — perpetuated the 50-year old to go through the local and sectional qualifying process.

“This is our first U.S. Open,” Stricker noted of his home state. “Then I had more and more people come up to me and say, hey, why aren’t you in? And pretty soon it became a little chip on my shoulder that I had to work a little bit harder to try to get in. “I still don’t believe I should have got a spot. I’m convinced of that, but it would have been nice if they would have. But the way it worked out, I feel much better the way I got here.”

As one of two Wisconsinites in the field — Homestead graduate Jordan Niebrugge is the other — Stricker has had big galleries follow him each day’s practice session, and is anticipated to have a sizable gallery following him after his 2:20 p.m. round starts.

“It’s overwhelming at times, the amount of people that are coming up to me and wishing me luck,” Stricker said Wednesday of the support he’s encountered at his 20th U.S. Open. “The ovation I got when I went up on No. 9 (Tuesday) ... yeah, it’s pretty cool. “Hopefully, I can play well to make it worth it on everybody’s part. I don’t want to stop by just qualifying and being here ceremonially.”