PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Mario Tiziani, close-knit Stricker family member, forging own path
September 28, 2022
By Bob McClellan , PGATOUR.COM
- September 28, 2022
Mario Tiziani makes birdie putt on No. 4 at Pure Insurance
With no built in status from his PGA TOUR days, Mario Tiziani, the brother-in-law and agent of 10-time PGA TOUR Champions winner Steve Stricker, has played in 10 events this season and is in position to make the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs.
Tiziani, 52, recorded the first top 10 of his career at the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach on Sunday. His final round 5-under 67 helped him climb seven spots into a tie for seventh, four shots behind winner Steve Flesch. More importantly it moved him up 13 spots in the Charles Schwab Cup standings to 63rd, comfortably inside the line to make it into the first Schwab Cup Playoffs event, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, Oct. 21-23 in Richmond, Virginia.
“It was a really fun week. Who knows, a shot or two or three here and there … but I'm happy to finish so well and to get my first top 10,” Tiziani said. “And what a venue for it. I’ve gotten to play a couple of tournaments there, and it never gets old. Even Spyglass Hill is one of my favorite courses. So we’re pretty lucky to have the opportunity to play there, and to finish top 10 is super special.”
Tiziani played golf professionally for 17 years following graduating from the University of Wisconsin, where he was captain of the golf team. He even attained a PGA TOUR card in 2005, but he finally gave up chasing the golf dream in 2010.
But the long-doused flame flickered after he turned 50 and Stricker arranged an exemption into the tournament in which he serves as host, the American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wisconsin. Tiziani didn’t play particularly well (T71), but his scored improved in each round.
He played once more in the elongated, COVID-riddled 2020-21 season and things went much better. Tiziani received an exemption into the Sanford International in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and outside the glare of making his debut in front of so many family and friends, he turned in a surprise tie for 11th, propelled by an opening-round 65.Mario Tiziani is in good position to advance to the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. (Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
He spent much of that 2020-21 season caddying for Stricker while his sister and Stricker’s wife, Nicki, stayed home to look after their two daughters because of the pandemic. But this year he has caddied for him only twice with Nicki back on the job full time. “We’re obviously a close family, and I’m happy to fill in when I can,” Tiziani said.
Tiziani’s 2022 schedule has been kind of haphazard, subject to which tournaments he wants to try to qualify for and when he actually makes it through.
“I’ve Monday qualified four times and gotten in with six sponsor’s exemptions, including the American Family and the Sanford,” Tiziani said. “I think they gave me one in South Dakota because I played so well there last year and they wanted to give me another chance.
“Some more I guess have just been based on my play; I think they are willing to give me an opportunity to keep trying to climb that Schwab Cup list. So it's been kind of an array of things. Again, super grateful for the tournament directors and title sponsors, because Monday qualifying is tough. It’s a tough road.”
Unfortunately for Tiziani, his first top 10 didn’t result in what it usually might otherwise: an automatic spot in the next event, the CONSTELLATION Furyk & Friends in Jacksonville, Florida. It has only one spot available to the previous tournament’s top 10 who’s not otherwise in the field, and that spot went to Paul Stankowski, who tied for second at Pebble Beach.
“Stankowski is pretty much in the same boat as I am,” Tiziani said. “So I’ll go and try to Monday qualify unless I can get an exemption.”
Tiziani said he has adjusted his season goals as he has climbed the money list. With two events before the Schwab Cup Playoffs, he’s unsure if he’ll get into either. If he can, the goal obviously becomes securing a position in the top 56, which would get him through the second playoff event, the TimberTech Championship, and more importantly give him enough status to play a full schedule in 2023.
Tiziani has plenty of game. With only 10 events he hasn’t played enough to qualify for the PGA TOUR Champions official statistics, but if he did he’d rank in the top 10 in total driving and greens in regulation and 21st in scoring average.
“I’ve got a tall task (to play well enough to secure his status for 2023),” Tiziani said. “But I’m excited for it. It’s nice to play well, and hopefully I can keep the momentum going.”