PGA Tour pro Steve Stricker, defending champion of the Deutsche Bank Championship, will share his thoughts on golf and life on the PGA Tour occasionally in Boston.com's golf blog.
Home sweet home!
I’m very excited to be playing the PGA Championship this week in my home state of Wisconsin. I will have lots of family and friends there to support me, which will hopefully inspire me to play my best. It's been a while since I've played so close to home, and it's a tournament I've been looking forward to for some time. I've already seen so many supporters during my practice rounds and I couldn't be more appreciative of all the well wishes.
I played a practice round at Whistling Straights on the Sunday before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. It really has the feel of a links style course and feels very similar to being in Scotland or Ireland. That said, it does have some "American" characteristics – there aren't many opportunities to hit run-up shots like on a typical links course.
Whistling Straights is a Pete Dye design and he’s known for visually intimidating the player, particularly off the tee. There are a few long carries and supposedly over 900 bunkers on the course, so getting it in the fairway will be critical this week. Believe it or not, there is some room off the tee, but this is not always clearly visible from the tee box. As a result, my caddie, Jimmy, and I have spent a lot of time selecting our targets and calculating yardages during our practice rounds.
There really is a buzz this week with so many guys heading into the tournament playing great golf. We've seen some low scores lately and guys from all over the world have arrived here in good form. I would think that a guy like Rory McIlroy, who is accustomed to the look of this type of course, will play well. I would also watch for guys like Matt Kuchar and Jeff Overton, who have contended over the past few weeks on tour. I'd also be surprised if guys like Tiger, Phil and Padraig weren't right in the mix come Sunday.
The PGA Championship has been a mixed bag for me in the past. My best finish was in 1998 when I finished second at Sahalee Country Club. I haven't had much consistency in this tournament, but I’m hoping to turn it around this year. I've really tried to stick to my routine this week and treat it as much like any other week as possible. Of course, there is always more going on at major championships and the tension is elevated, even during the practice rounds. It will be good to finally get it started today and hopefully get into the groove on the course.
Steve Stricker is a 17-year veteran of the PGA Tour and defending champion of the Deutsche Bank Championship, a PGA Tour Playoff event at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., over Labor Day weekend. The world’s top 100 golfers will compete for $7.5 million and a $1.35 million payout to the champion from August 31 through September 7. Since 2003, the Championship has raised nearly $17 million for local and national charities. Visit www.dbchampionship.com.