A balancing act: Stricker opens play at John Deere Classic, looking ahead to Ryder Cup


SILVIS (WCIA) — At 54 years young, Steve Stricker is showing he can still hang on the PGA Tour. It’s been 10 years since the former Illini pulled off a three-peat at the John Deere Classic, bringing back plenty of good memories heading into the week for the longtime pro, who has four Top 20 finishes in the nine events he’s played this season. That also includes a Senior Players Championship victory two weeks ago at Bridgestone, his seventh win on the Champions Tour.

“I wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t think I could do something similar,” Stricker said in reference to his success translating to the PGA Tour. “Obviously, winning the John Deere is going to be a tall order but I still think there’s some good play inside of me.”

Stricker had an up and down first round Thursday, carding a one-under 70. After going out +2, he rallied on the back nine with three birdies. He’s balancing a lot these days, both on and off the course, as the Ryder Cup captain gets ready to pick six players to join his squad, in addition to the six automatic qualifiers.

“I want this to be a team effort, I want everybody to be all in on who these six picks are going to be and make it a true team deal,” he said. “It’s an exciting time and we’re a year behind for the obvious reasons but I’m ready to get it going, play it and bring that cup back where it belongs.”

The Europeans have won seven out of the last nine Ryder Cup trophies. And if anybody can rally the Americans it should be Stricker, with the event played in his home state of Wisconsin in September at Whistling Straits.

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