MADISON — On Friday, Steve Stricker told reporters that events on the Champions Tour are “do-it-every day” type of tournaments because they last only three days, one less than on the main PGA Tour. Unfortunately for the Madison resident, he only played well on two of the three days, which led to his three-way third-place finish in the American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge this weekend.
“[It’s] a microcosm of my year, really,” said Stricker, who shot 13-under for the tournament. “Some really good things and then throw some not-so-good things. Like yesterday, the whole round yesterday, that was the worst round I’ve played all year on any of the tours. That just killed me. If I could have just shot even par yesterday it would have given me a better opportunity.”
Instead, he shot a 2-over par 74, leaving him a 6-under coming into Sunday. Not even a very good round of 65 could get him to the top of the leaderboard.
Fellow Wisconsin native, Jerry Kelly, was also in the mix coming down the stretch, spending time in first place at 14-under. But he, like Stricker, couldn’t top Scott McCarron, who earned his first tour win of the year by shooting an 8-under 64 in the final round to finish at 15-under.
“I really thought it was going to happen,” Kelly said of him winning on what some might call his home course. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been on 16 and 17.”
Stricker was several holes in front of both Kelly and McCarron and knew the type of score he was going to need to win. But he missed birdie putts on the 17th and 18th holes that would have got him there.
“When we were coming in, I told Nicki (his wife and caddie) we’ve got to try to get to 15 [under],” Stricker said. “I saw that these guys are behind me, so I knew that they had the same holes to try to birdie as I did. I just thought that I needed to get to that number and just came up a little bit short. Had the opportunities, I just didn’t make those putts I needed to coming in.”
Kelly also had opportunities that he wasn’t able to convert, which were still on his mind afterwards.
“I’m disappointed, there’s no doubt,” Kelly said. “I want those putts back. I want to just go ahead and hit them hard, who cares what happens.”
In the end, though, both were pleased with the week overall, especially Stricker, who serves as host a tournament that is about a lot more than just golf. Nearly all the events this week, including a big concert Friday night, served as a fundraiser for the American Family Insurance Children’s Hospital.
“We’re fortunate the word is out that we’re doing some good things here, and obviously we’re raising monies for charities,” Stricker said. “But to get the support from the community and players alike [is great].”