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PGA CHAMPIONSHIP RELATED STORIES







Steve Stricker has eye on Ryder Cup place

American Steve Stricker will have one eye firmly focused on next month’s Ryder Cup while he bids for his maiden major title at this week’s PGA Championship.

A four-times winner on the PGA Tour, the 41-year-old has never represented his country in the biennial team competition and he currently occupies the final spot for automatic selection.

The leading eight players in the U.S. Cup standings after this week’s tournament will book their places for the Sept. 19-21 matches at Valhalla Country Club and Stricker is determined to be among them.

“I’ve got a lot riding on the line with Ryder Cup,” the world number 10 told reporters at Oakland Hills Country Club on Monday.

“I’m last man in right now so I’ve got an important week ahead of me. Hopefully, I’ll get off to a good start and have a good week.

“I’m taking it very seriously,” added Stricker, who played for the U.S. against the Internationals at the Presidents Cup team competition in 1996 and again last year.

“I think this is my third or fourth time with an opportunity to play on the (Ryder Cup) team and I haven’t quite gotten it done.”

Stricker lies eighth in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings with a tally of 2,603.168 points, just 180.185 more than ninth-placed Woody Austin.

The top eight after Sunday’s final round at Oakland Hills qualify automatically for the team, with captain Paul Azinger adding a further four picks on Sept. 2 to complete the 12-man lineup.

“I want to play well and I want to be a part of that team,” Stricker said. “I really want to make it on my own merit.”

Known as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, Stricker has proved his mettle for the big occasion over the last two years.

Twelve months ago, he upstaged players such as Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els by winning the prestigious Barclays Classic, the first event of the inaugural FedExCup playoff series.

He ended 2007 ranked number four in the world and was voted the PGA Tour’s comeback player of the year for the second consecutive season.

Although he lost momentum after starting his 2008 campaign with a string of top-10 finishes, he hinted he was close to his best by tying for seventh at last month’s British Open.

“I’ve been playing a little bit better of late and my game is starting to come around,” Stricker said. “I haven’t been driving it as well as I was last year but I continue to work on it.

“I’ve been trying to regain my focus, to make a bigger commitment again to try to play better. I’m looking forward to a good, strong, PGA showing.”

The PGA Championship starts on Thursday.




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