Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Win for Steve Timms and a Jordan Spieth Clarification

Every time I see Steve Stricker enjoy success on the PGA Tour, the first person I think of is Steve Timms.

Stricker’s improbable birdie-birdie finish Sunday earned him his third consecutive victory at the John Deere Classic. Among the nicest, friendliest guys on Tour (definitely one of the best guys I’ve had the pleasure to meet and interview), the 44-year-old Stricker joined the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson as players to win the same PGA Tour event three years in a row.

Steve Stricker won the John Deere
Classic for a third straight time.
He shot a final round 2-under 69 today and posted a winning, four-day total of 22-under 262. Next week he’ll try to win his first major championship at the British Open.

No doubt, Timms is smiling ear to ear right now. Stricker never shies away from giving Timms, the Houston Golf Association president and CEO and tournament director of the Shell Houston Open, a heaping load of credit for the success Stricker has achieved in the past five years.

After winning three times in his first seven years on Tour, Stricker lost his game in 2005. As a result, he lost his PGA Tour card, finishing 162nd on the money list that year.
Steve Timms, president/CEO
of the Houston Golf Assoc.

The next season, he relied on sponsor’s exemptions to get into tournaments and make a living. Timms gave one of those coveted exemptions to Stricker for the 2006 SHO, and the Wisconsin native made the most of it. He shot 65-66 on the weekend and finished in the top 10. The confidence gained propelled Stricker to six more top 10s in 2006; he won the first of his two PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year Awards.

When Timms made the decision to offer the exemption, Stricker was ranked 331st in the world. Before his win Sunday, Stricker ranked fifth in the world. He's won eight times since Timms helped him in 2006.

"It all got started here (in Houston), and it kick-started my good play," Stricker said in 2008. "I gained a lot of confidence from this event a couple years ago and have kind of rolled with it since, and this place means a lot."

A win for Steve Stricker is a victory for Steve Timms.

Two of the nicest guys in the world of golf.

                                                                       * * *

Just in case anyone got the wrong idea about the column I wrote here on Friday (Blaming Jordan Spieth), I felt I might explain myself.

The column was supposed to be funny.

I don’t blame Jordan Spieth for anything except making my job exceptionally fun every time I get to watch him play golf and write about his accomplishments. In my seven-plus years of covering golf exclusively in Texas, no amateur golfer has impressed me more -- on and off the golf course -- than Spieth.

It’s really not even close.

The fact that he calls me Mr. Button only shows his solid character and upbringing. The best junior golfer I’ve ever seen play is also the most respectful and humble.

I guess if I really had to document one complaint about the future PGA Tour star, it would be that I was unable to convince him to play his college golf at the University of Kansas, my alma mater.

I wouldn’t bet against Spieth leading the University of Texas to multiple national championships in the next few years.

He did promise me once that whenever Kansas plays Kansas State in basketball, he’ll root for the Jayhawks.

I’ll take what I can get.

- Mark Button, Texas Links Magazines.

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