Stripe It!

Who says you can’t hit it far and straight?

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Steve Stricker: The Total Driver

Is This His Year?

Everybody loves a good comeback story, and on the PGA Tour, there isn’t a better one right now than Steve Stricker. Since the 43-year-old Wisconsin native lost his Tour card in 2004, he has rebuilt his swing and his game. Now he’s number two in the world.

Stricker might not play with the same pizzazz as the younger generation—no diamond-studded belt buckles, no tabloids, no Twitter—but through hard work and a recommitted focus, he has become the world’s best active golfer. But golf isn’t the only thing to admire about him. At a time when the off-course excesses of celebrity athletes have caused some fans to question the integrity of their heroes, Stricker’s humility is a breath of fresh air.

With his win earlier this year at the Northern Trust Open, Stricker was on a tear. He had won three out of his last nine starts and finished in the top 10 in nine out of his last 10 events. On the heels of a very successful 2009, that saw him finish second on the money list, he’s now positioned to add a major title to his list of achievements.

The U.S. Open at Pebble Beach is his best chance for victory. With the rough up and the fairways pinched, the winner has to drive the ball long and straight. Yet, strangely, Stricker hasn’t played the AT&T Pebble Beach since 2006, citing inclement weather for his no-show this year. Strange logic from a midwestern guy.

Regardless, look for him to redeem himself at this year’s Ryder Cup. Two years ago at Valhalla, as a 41-year-old rookie, he struggled to an 0-2-1 record, but excelled at last year’s President Cup going 4-1.

Behind The Numbers
(Through February 28, 2010)
World Golf Rank: 2
Age: 43
Driving Accuracy: 69.77%
Total Driving Rank: 15th (combination of accuracy and distance)
Greens In Regulation: 73.61%
PGA Tour Titles: 8, including this year’s Northern Trust Open

Here, about halfway back, Steve’s clubface is perfectly square, his arms are extended from his chest (creating width), and his shoulders are turning while his lower body resists, thus creating coil.

Man, is Steve stored and loaded! His shoulders have turned twice as much as his hips, and the angle of his shoulders, left arm, left wrist and clubface all match perfectly—
something with which he used to struggle.

Notice how his eyes are focused on the back of the ball. His hips have initiated the downswing and gotten him to this point; now it’s time for him to accelerate his arms and clubhead into the back of the ball.

His eyes haven’t yet moved from the back of the ball, and his right foot is still grounded—
the result of keeping his hips quiet through the hit. His club and arms have accelerated past his body into a full extension; all the stored power has been released.

Even though his clubhead has reached speeds of over 100 mph, he has finished perfectly in balance. His weight is fully on his forward foot, his hips have cleared, his right foot is on the point of his toe, and the club is framed over his shoulders.

Zachary Allen, PGA, teaches at DeBell Golf Course in Burbank, Calif. A former Mini-Tour player, Allen has won 20 worldwide titles.


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