Steve Stricker says that the U.S. Open might be his best chance for a major

Stricker says the tougher the course, the better he plays.
David E. Klutho/SI

Why do you think the U.S. Open is a good venue for your first major win?
You know, I've been close at the U.S. Open a couple of times, so I'd like to think that it could come there. And the reason is that it's just a tournament where you have to gut it out. It may not be pretty all the time, usually because of the conditions. Everybody hits it in the rough, but you've got to hack it out. It's just a tough tournament, and I feel like I'm better at tougher tournaments.

Would you rather win a major or be a part of another Ryder Cup team?
I would love to win a major. I've been close, and it's kind of how people define your career out here — if you've won a major or not. So it'd be nice to win one. But being on that Ryder Cup team kind of put the icing on the cake for me thus far in my career.

Which gets you more excited — playing in majors or playing in the Ryder Cup?
On those Ryder Cup teams, the adrenaline is a notch higher, and you're a little bit more nervous than you would be in a major. There are some majors that I get very nervous in. I think a lot of the players do, just because they know there's just a little bit more on the line.

Given your nice-guy persona, has anyone ever advised you to be more flamboyant or edgy to get more endorsement opportunities?
No [laughs]. Nobody's ever given me any advice like that. I've got a lot of great people around me, both on and off the course, so I've been blessed that way.

You were the Tour's Comeback Player of the Year in 2006 and '07. How did you turn your game around?
Hard work, really, and just realizing that this is what I do for a living. I was starting to think if there was anything else that I could do, and there is a very short list of things that I could actually do other than golf. So I just decided that I needed to put in time, work at it a little bit harder, and make more of a commitment to it.

Do you ever feel like you're the least-known best player in professional golf?
I don't think about that part. I just try to play well and let all that other stuff take care of itself.

STRICKER FILE

Age: 42
Born: Edgerton, Wisc.
World Ranking: 12
Earnings: 18.8 million
Tour Wins: 4
Ryder Cup Record: 0-2-1

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