THOUSAND OAKS, California, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Steve Stricker was a little perplexed after winning the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year award on Tuesday for the second successive season.
The American world number four was selected in balloting by his fellow competitors over a group including compatriots Rocco Mediate and Brian Bateman.
“It is an honour to win this for the second straight year,” Stricker, 40, told reporters during the build-up to this week’s Target World Challenge. “I don’t know how I did it, but it is an honour to be voted by your peers.
“But I don’t know if the award has the correct name or not. I mean, I won this last year and I don’t know what I did to deserve it again this year. I thought you would have to stink at golf for a while, which I did for last year.
“I was thinking about what I would have to do to win this three years in a row. I don’t know if I did that if I’d be out of this ballot and maybe be on the Player of the Year ballot, which would be nice.”
Stricker climbed from 162nd in the 2005 PGA Tour money list to 34th last year. This season, he finished in fourth spot with earnings of $4,663,077, after winning his fourth Tour title at the Barclays Classic in August.
Despite soaring to a career-high fourth in the world rankings, he does not bracket himself as an elite player alongside top-ranked Tiger Woods and others such as Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.
“We’ve always looked at them that way, as the ‘Big Four’ or the ‘Big Five’, whatever you want to say,” he added.
“I’ve had two good years and I’ve just snuck in there. I don’t see myself as that, no, I don’t.”
Stricker will tee off with tournament host Woods in Thursday’s first round at Sherwood Country Club and accepts the game’s leading player is well ahead of his rivals.
“Just playing with him toward the end of the season and watching what he does and what he’s capable of kind of blows me away at times,” Stricker said of Woods.
“I realised that back in ‘97 when I first played with him. I played with him at AT&T (the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am) and I was coming off a good year in ‘96 and I looked at him to see how I could stack up.
“I didn’t stack up very well then, and I don’t stack up very well now. But there’s ways that you have to try to beat him and that’s just play your own game.
“Try to shoot the lowest score possible but do it in your own way and don’t get caught up into how he does it. If you start to watch what he does, that’s a no-no because you need to be paying attention to your own game.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)