This episode features a storybook tale waiting for a glorious final chapter.
Golfer Steve Stricker was player of the year at the University of Illinois in nineteen eighty-eight and eighty-nine, and was elected to the U OF I’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.
After early professional success, his play cratered: Stricker is the only man to win the PGA’s “Comeback Player of the Year” award twice.
Stricker now plays in the PGA and the PGA Tour Champions tournaments. In his career, Stricker has won twelve PGA, three Champions Tour, and two International Tournaments. Steve has won over seven times more PGA prize money than any golfer born in his home state of Wisconsin or in the state of Illinois. Stricker was once ranked as high as second in the world. He’s played on four President’s Cup and two Ryder Cup teams, won the Byron Nelson, low average score award, and the Payne Stewart Award for the player whose values uphold the game’s heritage of philanthropy and meticulous self-presentation.
And yet, with over forty-five million dollars in career earnings, Stricker has not won any of golf’s premier events: No Masters, PGA Championship, US, or British Open wins.
And so, Stricker may join a prestigious list of former athletic greats who did not win their sports’ championships: Ernie Banks, Rod Carew, Ted Williams, and Robin Yount in baseball; Elgin Baylor and Reggie Miller in basketball; Dick Butkus and Fran Tarkenton in football…just to name a few.
No shame in standing with that group.
Still, Stricker would love nothing more than capping off his career with a storybook ending by winning one of golf’s majors.
Until next time, for Stories Beyond the Scores, I’m Chris Reynolds.
Steve Stricker Golf Results & Event Log.
Altvater, Fred. “PGA: Has Steve Stricker Earned a Berth in the Hall of Fame?“ January 10, 2012.
DeCourcy., Mike “The 25 best athletes to never win a championship.” Oct 26, 2018.
Feinstein, J., Hoggard, R., & Associated Press. (n.d.). “Stricker one of a kind.” June 7, 2011.
Photo: Steve Stricker at University of Illinois. Provided by University of Illinois Athletics.