"Finally it all came together:" Steve Stricker works to bring Champions Tour event to Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE -- In the next few years, the state of Wisconsin will be playing host to a PGA Championship, a U.S. Open and a Ryder Cup competition. There will now also be a regular Champions Tour event, thanks to the persistence of a popular pro.
It says something that when the University of Wisconsin's golf course hosts a Champions Tour event in the summer of 2016, it will be because of the efforts of a University of Illinois product. Steve Stricker and his neighbor Jerry Kelly used to be the biggest attractions at the Greater Milwaukee Open, later named the U.S. Bank Championship. That event was discontinued after 2009, leaving state golf fans wanting.
"It has been an ongoing process. I remember talking to Children's Hospital. I remember an event Jerry and I went to about 10 years ago to try to get something going, so there has been a process of this, and finally it just all came together," Stricker said.
The American Family Insurance Championship will take place in mid-June 2016. The corporate sponsorship, the involvement of the University of Wisconsin and the charitable element are all part of the recipe, but then there's the host. Stricker is revered by his fellow pros.
Stricker owns a dozen wins on tour, with over $40 million earned in his career. He is playing a partial schedule these days -- trying to keep his body in shape and maximizing time with his wife and two daughters.
"I've seen so many guys over the years continue to play all the way through their late 40s and the get tired of the game. They get frustrated. I kind of wanted to keep it fresh all the time and I wanted to be home," Stricker said.
Stricker won't be eligible to play in his inaugural event, but he'll be 50 years old in time for the 2017 competition. Where has the time gone?
"It just flies by. I think we're all just so busy all the time -- week in and week out -- whether on the road or with your family. Time cruises by. You have to do the things that are important in life and do the things that make you happy, and that's why I'm doing what I'm doing, and to bring this event here is another great thing for us," Stricker said.
There will be a $2 million purse for the first American Family Insurance championship with proceeds going to a pair of charities in Madison. The event will start in June of 2016.