By Doug Halberstadt
Tomorrow morning (Thursday, July 12), a little less than 90 miles from Rockford, professional golfer and Edgerton, Wis., native Steve Stricker will begin his quest to become only the fifth man in the history of championship golf to win a tournament four consecutive times. He will tee it up at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., hoping to best a field of some of the most formidable opponents the PGA Tour has to offer.
Also making their way to Silvis are 31 tournament winners over the last two years, including several from this year, including Zach Johnson, Kyle Stanley, Carl Petterson, rookie John Huh and Mark Wilson. Nick Watney, Ben Crane, Camilo Villegas and John Deere Classic past champions Sean O’Hair (2005) and Jonathan Byrd (2007) also were winners over the last two years.
2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink and 2009 PGA Championship victor Y.E. Yang will do their best to prevent Stricker from making it four in a row. In addition to Cink, three other British Open champions will be going for their first victory at the John Deere Classic. They include John Daly, Todd Hamilton and David Duval.
Stricker will be trying to add his name to the list that includes Tom Morris, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods. They have won the same tournament four straight times. Woods did it twice at different events. Only 17 players in history have won the same event three straight times.
In addition to trying to make it four straight, Stricker also will continue his pursuit of a berth on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, which faces off against Europe Sept. 28-30 at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. With Nos. 1-8 automatically making the team, Stricker stands 14th on the points list, and would like to improve his standing. A member of two Ryder Cup and three Presidents Cup teams, Stricker has paired well with Woods, and could be a captain’s pick.
For fans wishing to catch Stricker or any of the many other pros, it’s an easy drive to Silvis, Ill. Take U.S. Highway 39 south to I-88 Toll (west). Proceed to I-80 Exit 4/I-88 Exit 1, continue (west) on SR-5 for 5.7 miles toward East Moline. Turn left (east) onto Colona Road for 0.6 miles. Turn right (south) onto Friendship Farm Road and follow signs to the clubhouse.
Advance tickets can be purchased online at johndeereclassic.com/tickets.html, or they can also be purchased at the gate for any of the four rounds.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the July 11-17, 2012, issue