Try 1 month for 99¢

PGA Tour or PGA Tour Champions? For Steve Stricker, the answer is both. 

At age 51, Stricker could have opted to chase his first major championship this week at the Constellation Senior Players outside of Chicago.

But for a player stuck between tours who has hoisted three John Deere Classic bronze buck trophies, the choice was simple.

"I still think I can win out here on this tour and can compete out here at a high level," Stricker said Wednesday. "This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year, and it has a lot of special memories for me.

"So it wasn't a hard decision at all."

Stricker has made seven cuts in nine events on the regular tour. He was 12th at Valspar, 18th at the FedEx St. Jude and 20th at the U.S. Open. 

On the 50-and-over circuit, the Madison, Wisconsin, resident has won twice in six events, is seventh on the Charles Schwab Cup money list and made more than $925,000. 

"Guys have told me you can't play both tours," Stricker said. "Well, I felt like each tour has helped me play the other tour, so I've taken that a little bit as a challenge and tried to perform well at each level.

"If I play on the Champions Tour, I get in a mode of making birdies, being aggressive and having to make putts. The pressure out there is to go low every round."

That mentality serves Stricker well at Deere Run. The winning score has been at least 18-under par in the last nine years. 

Since his JDC championship three-peat from 2009-11, Stricker has been in the top 11 four of the last six years and made all six cuts.

He has pocketed $3,225,556 in 16 starts in the Quad-Cities and is a collective 171-under par in 60 rounds.

"It's always very exciting for me to come back and drive down the road and see all the John Deere equipment and relive some of the great things that have taken place for me over the years," Stricker said. 

Stricker does not have the length off the tee of his younger counterparts. Still, his ball-striking, deft touch around the greens and putting stroke have allowed him to remain competitive on the PGA Tour. 

"There is room in this game for guys that can plot it around and be smart, play smart and not make mistakes," Stricker said.

The second oldest player in this week's field behind Davis Love III, Stricker can became the eighth golfer to capture a PGA Tour title past the age of 50.

For that to happen, Stricker realizes he'll need to string together four good rounds. He's had at least one round in the 70s in all nine tournaments.

"I'm very close to playing well out on the regular tour," Stricker said. "It seems like one round each week that I've played has kind of bit me in the butt. It's cost me from having some really, really good tournaments."

Stricker doesn't believe it is a byproduct of most PGA Tour Champions tournaments being 54-hole events as opposed to four rounds on the regular tour. 

Winner of 12 PGA Tour events, Stricker said he's maintained a good diet, remained active and gotten more rest during his off weeks. 

"This game has always been a challenge for all of us," Stricker said. "It's just another challenge for me at this age to try to prove that I can compete at this level.

"This is just another chapter for me. I'm not supposed to be out there. I'm not supposed to be able to compete, but yet deep down I feel like I can."


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.