Maginnes on Tap: Stricker destined not to win a major?
Is Steve Stricker one of “those guys”?
In the booth last week, Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo seemed to agree that as impressive as Stricker is, he is never going to win a major championship. While I disagree, I am not ready to say that the No. 5 player in the world is “one of those guys.” Frankly, there are very few of those guys left, maybe only one.
Johnny and Nick were those guys. When they were at their best, they were favorites every time they teed it up. They won major championships and led Ryder Cup teams. The PGA Tour always had a base of sound, proven champions who were supposed to do what we expected them to do. They were “those guys.”
Those guys don’t exist anymore, and Johnny and Nick need to realize that. Miller compared Tiger Woods with boxer Mike Tyson less than a year ago. Last week, Miller said that he expected Woods to win four times, including a major, this year.
“Those guys” always have given us security when it comes to being golf lovers. We knew what to expect. The game always has had its heroes. We have reveled in the successes and the failures of those icons. But in the modern era, our stars tend to flicker a little more and burn out quicker than they once did.
Our unwavering allegiance to our guy is tenuous on our good weeks. Most weeks, we ignore it all together because our guy isn’t playing and that Naval Academy grad or the double-heart transplant patient has a chance to win. Well that is just me looking into my crystal ball hoping that Billy Hurley and Erik Compton, respectively, wow us the same way this year that Keegan Bradley and Jhonattan Vegas did last year.
Golf has done its best to become like other sports with the advent of the FedEx Cup system and certainly has created excitement where none existed before. Too many good players winning great titles could be one perspective. Too many great players too spread out could be another. Here is something to consider: The only player to win a major championship and the FedEx Cup in the same year was Woods, in 2007 – the inaugural year of the Fed Ex Cup.
The game has simply expanded.
The end result is that we are searching for “those guys." The Els, Goosen, Harrington, Mickelson era has come to pass. Maybe one of that foursome will sneak another major championship onto his resume, but we aren’t expecting it. Maybe the Woods era is over, too; that remains to be seen.
But even when Tiger was Tiger, we still had “those guys”. As a matter of fact, we begged for them to remain "those guys" in the wake of Woods' greatness. Now we wait to find out whether Rory McIIroy will be one, or perhaps Charl Schwartzel or Louis Oosthuizen.
Steve Stricker may end up being the second-greatest player after the age of 40 in the history of the game. Vijay Singh won 22 times from 40 to today. But Stricker still isn’t one of “those guys,” and Johnny and Nick were more than happy to point it out in their own way this weekend. Maybe the next crop of “those guys” is coming. There certainly are plenty of candidates.
But right now, there is only one guy, and he is hardly what he used to be. He probably isn’t even as good as Stricker right now.