KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Steve Stricker has been one of the better American golfers since 2007. In that period he has risen to World No. 2, won eight times on the PGA Tour and has pocketed over $21 million and played on the last two Ryder Cups teams, one as a pick and the other spot he earned on points.
Sitting in 10th position in the Ryder Cup standings, Stricker is keenly aware of what he needs to do to jump Hunter Mahan at No. 9 and Phil Mickelson at No. 8.
Shooting a 5-under 67 was a step in the right direction with Mahan missing the cut and Mickelson struggling in Saturday’s third round.
“I’ve got to make $300,000 more than Phil is the way I looked at it because it’s double points,” Stricker said of his Ryder Cup position. “So I’m 600 points behind. So if I figure that right, that’s $300,000.”
Having felt the sting of missing a Ryder Cup pick when Tom Lehman was captain in 2006, the Wisconsin native wants to get his business done this week, but of course there is also a major championship on the line. Stricker came close in Atlanta last year finishing 12th after a final-round 73.
In Saturday’s third round, Stricker was on his game with six birdies and just a lone bogey at the par-4 13th hole.
With the weather forcing a playing suspension that will take the conclusion of the third round into Sunday morning, Stricker is just one shot off the clubhouse lead of 3 under by Bo Van Pelt and in optimal striking distance of the on-course leaders Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh, both at 6 under in the middle of their rounds.
“It kind of gets me back in it,” Stricker said of his 67 at the conclusion of his play on Saturday. “It all depends on what happens this afternoon. The wind may be kicking up a little bit more, making it a little bit more difficult for them. But it all depends what those leaders do.”
Stricker will have to wait awhile with the players scheduled to be back in position at 7:45 a.m. EDT.
When he does finally tee it up in the fourth round, Stricker will be thinking about winning his first major, but the Ryder Cup will occupy a little piece of his psyche as well.
“I can’t think about that tomorrow,” Stricker said of the Ryder Cup. “I’m going to be going out there trying to do as well as I can in the tournament and let the Ryder Cup thing take care of itself.”