by Jeff Skinner
Steve Stricker has made a career out of coming back. Twice in his career he won the Comeback Player of the Year. And he did that consecutively, yes, that’s how far he had fallen: his contemporaries voted him Comeback Player of the Year in back to back years. His win at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions did not look like a comeback as he held the lead going into the final round but it most certainly was.
At the end of last season Stricker had lost all his strength in his left arm and had a tingling in his fingers. He faced the fate of a golfer at the end of his career. He sought out doctors and found he had problems with the disks at his C6 and C7 vertebrae and was told he needed surgery. Fearing that surgery could end his career he elected to get physical therapy and a few cortisone shots.
So it is easy to understand that a 44 year old golfer faced with possible back surgery just might not be able to compete on the PGA Tour. But this is Steve Stricker, Mr. Comeback.
Writing another chapter in his compelling career, Stricker held on to his lead at Kapalua and won his 12th PGA Tour tournament. It is also his eighth win since he has turned forty and keeps Stricker as the top ranked American in the Official World Golf Rankings as he move up to fifth.
It wasn’t a classic “Stricker” round. He missed a few short putts, three putted twice and let a few golfers get to within one stroke of his lead but he turned it on over the back nine as his competition was blown away in the Maui winds.
Stricker once again has made an amazing comeback. He was faced with surgery and may still need it but as of now he feels good and will continue to play. Stricker has to be the most modest superstar in golf. He’s on top of his game but never utters a boastful word. He is humble, thankful and content with his life as a golfer but more concerned with his life as a husband and father.
Hawaii is a magical place and anyone who visits there is touched by “The Spirit of Aloha.” Aloha means more than hello or goodbye. Those on the islands will tell you that it means” The joyful sharing of life energy in the present.” Another interpretation is living life with kindness, unity, agreeableness, humility and patience.
If there is a professional golfer that exemplifies those qualities it is Steve Stricker. Is it possible to win Comeback Player of the Year three times?