PGA TOUR ChampionsLeaderboardWatch + ListenNewsSchwab CupSchedulePlayersStatsTicketsShopPGA TOURPGA TOUR ChampionsKorn Ferry TourPGA TOUR AmericasLPGA TOURDP World TourPGA TOUR University

With daughter Izzi by his side, Steve Stricker's magical 2023 offers one last surprise

6 Min Read


With daughter Izzi by his side, Steve Stricker's magical 2023 offers one last surprise

    Written by Jeff Babineau @JeffBabz62

    ORLANDO, Fla. – For a golfer who emerged from the snowy tundra of Wisconsin, Steve Stricker has woven together a long and exemplary career. At 56, he has done pretty much all a man can do in the game.

    His next major championship start (likely next May’s PGA Championship at Valhalla, in Kentucky) will be his 60th. He won 12 events on the PGA TOUR, is top 20 in career earnings ($44.9 million) and has represented his country in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups. He even has been a winning captain in both, and once climbed as high as No. 2 in the world.

    Though he never captured a major in all those years on the PGA TOUR, Stricker has found the recipe as an over-50 player, winning seven major titles on the PGA TOUR Champions, including three in 2023. (He nearly added a fourth, finishing second at the U.S. Senior Open.)

    One tournament Stricker didn’t figure he would ever play was the late-season PNC Championship in Orlando. One, for years it predominantly was a father-son event, and Stricker is a man with two daughters. The elite-field criteria for the fathers required a victory in a major or THE PLAYERS Championship; Stricker had neither. Most Decembers, if he wasn’t sitting in a hunting stand somewhere deep in the woods, he’d be home on a couch, enviously watching the PNC from afar.

    Roughly a month ago, a curious note was forwarded to Stricker’s brother-in-law/agent, fellow PGA Tour Champions Tour competitor Mario Tiziani. It was from Alastair Johnston, the longtime IMG leader and the godfather of the PNC. Would Stricker and his younger daughter, Izzi, a pretty stout high school player, have an interest in competing?

    As they are known to say back home in quaint Midwest, in towns from Butternut to Sheboygan, you betcha.

    “From what I understand,” Stricker said, “the event (PNC) is trying to get more women involved. Izzi kind of fits that mold. I think I got invited because of her, that’s the really the thing.”

    Stricker laughed. Here he is, one of the game’s most accomplished players in his era, and he is riding his 17-year-old daughter’s coattails to get into a golf tournament.

    “In all seriousness,” he added, “I never thought I was going to be able to play in that tournament. We’re all excited about it.”

    And so they came to be on the grounds Wednesday at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Grande Lakes, in south Orlando. The tournament features pro-am days on Thursday and Friday and two tournament days on the weekend, though incoming rains may wreak some havoc with the schedule.

    Regardless, Izzi Stricker already is having a great time. She spotted Annika Sorenstam, a 72-time LPGA winner, and got to say hello Nelly Korda. Her dad is her idol, Izzi quickly points out, but Nelly ranks highly on the list, too. An added bonus to Izzi's week: She and her dad drew Nelly and Petr Korda in Saturday's first round.

    “Nelly is a good representation of our golf generation as a girl, the way she plays, the way she projects herself on social media,” Izzi said of Nelly Korda. “I think she’s kind of my idol right now.”

    For the Strickers, a true family affair this will be. They were informed on Wednesday when they visited with media that they have been established as tournament favorites. Steve doesn’t want his daughter to feel any extra pressure as she steps to a big stage; they are here to enjoy the opportunity, to make some memories.

    Steve’s wife, Nicki, who often caddies for him, will move over to Izzi’s bag this week. The Strickers’ older daughter, Bobbi, who is playing the mini-tours in Florida this winter in an effort to regain her Epson Tour status this summer, will be on her dad’s bag.

    As good as Stricker’s amazing 2023 PGA TOUR Champions season was – six victories, three of them majors, and five runner-up finishes in 16 starts – it doesn’t win top billing in the family. Not in his opinion.

    Steve Stricker’s winning highlights from the Sanford International

    Izzi won her second state individual high school championship as a senior at Waunakee High School. Her dad once tried going back-to-back as a senior while at nearby Edgerton High, but “fell flat on my face.” Bobbi, who played tennis in high school but walked on to the women’s golf team at the University of Wisconsin, is trying to get traction in her fledgling pro career.

    The true star of the Stricker Show in 2023 was probably Mom. Nicki Stricker’s on-and-off return to competition took a seriously nice turn when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur in Arizona this fall. It was her first USGA championship since the 1982 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Though she fell short of making match play, Nicki, who played at Wisconsin, definitely relit the pilot to start playing top competition again.

    “She wants to play well, and grinds on it, more than any of us,” Steve Stricker said. “She works hard at it. We were super-excited to see her qualify and go out to that.”

    All the Strickers have pitched in to help Izzi’s rapid development. She gets a lot of her competitiveness and fire, of course, from her dad. "We use our mistakes as motivation on the next hole,” Izzi said. “Never get too high, never get too down ... we just like to compete.”

    Her mother helps Izzi greatly with her mental game, and is instrumental. Izzi is glad to have her on the bag this week at the PNC. Izzi: “Mom caddied for me this summer, and I really enjoyed it. She’s really positive. I like her in my ear. She doesn’t tell me what clubs to hit, I make my own decisions there. But if I get upset, she knows how to bring my spirits back up.”

    Bobbi is 25 and has been a big help in getting Izzi ready for college golf next fall. Izzi signed to play at the University of Wisconsin Madison, just 15 minutes from home. Bobbi knows everything about the program, having spent five seasons inside it. She went to Wisconsin as a walk-on, shooting scores in the 80s. By the time she graduated, she was in the team’s No. 1 spot.

    Izzi started shooting some sub-par scores this golf season, and once she went low, everything kind of snowballed from there. She broke 70 three times, including one round of 65. She’s a good putter (go figure!). After her dad reinforced that winning a second high school title would be a difficult challenge, she went out and accomplished the feat, shooting 71-73 at University Ridge Golf Course. Her team finished second.

    “She’s more consistent,” Steve said. “Driving it better. Her irons could be better yet, her distance control, short irons, we talk about that, could be better. And she putts pretty well. She has a pretty good all-around game.

    “Hopefully she has fun with it, and doesn’t put too much pressure on herself to play well at the PNC.”

    Steve Stricker wins by five at the American Family Insurance

    Izzi looks forward to seeing some of the same sons and daughters who were out there traveling to PGA TOUR events when their dads were playing, notably Charlie Woods, John Daly II and Luke Leonard. She remembers meeting Charlie when her dad paired up with Tiger Woods at the Par 3 Tournament at the Masters one spring, and looks forward to catching up.

    As for her goal, competition-wise, this weekend at PNC?

    “To win,” she said, very Tiger-like. “To have fun, too. But obviously, everything I play in, I want to win. I think Dad has the same mindset when it comes to playing golf.”

    He does. The Strickers will be tough to beat.

    PGA TOUR Champions
    Privacy PolicyTerms of UseAccessibility StatementDo Not Sell or Share My Personal InformationCookie ChoicesSitemap

    Copyright © 2024 PGA TOUR, Inc. All rights reserved.

    PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, and the Swinging Golfer design are registered trademarks. The Korn Ferry trademark is also a registered trademark, and is used in the Korn Ferry Tour logo with permission.