By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- As anyone who plays golf knows, and Steve Stricker was quick to point out late Sunday evening, the game of golf can "put you in your place rather quickly at times."
And Stricker's time came on the second hole Sunday as he hit his drive out of bounds, caught his third on the hosel and sent it there, too, on the way to a triple bogey that all but assured he wouldn't win the U.S. Open.
The 46-year-old had started the final round one shot off the lead but trailed by four when he stepped to the third green. He ended up shooting 41 on the front nine and 76 for 18, finishing in a tie for sixth at 6 over.
"But still a good week," Stricker said. "I competed well this week. I did a lot of good things. Surely not what I was looking for today, but still things I can build on and work towards when I play next at the John Deere (Classic)."
Stricker has cut back his schedule dramatically this year to spend more time with his family. He likely will only play 11 times, and he says he's benefitted by not as caught up in the ebb and flow of the game.
"I'm way easier on myself," he said. "I'm not over this yet, but it won't take me long to get over this. Golf is not the thing in my life as it once was. That was the reason why I scaled back. ...
"So it's kind of taken a back seat. I'm fine with that. I'm good with that. Sure, I'm disappointed I didn't play better today and have a chance to win, but, like I say, it's secondary in my life now, or even further back."
Stricker said he felt more comfortable on Sunday at Merion than he'd ever felt contending for a major.
"So that's a good sign," he said. "I'm running out of years, though, I think. It's not getting any easier as I get older. But at least ... the feelings that I have out there are that of calmness, I guess, and trusting my ability."
Even so, don't expect Stricker to travel to the UK next month.
"No, I think I missed the deadline to send in my entry for the British," he said. "So I won't be going over there."