Wisconsin's Stricker, Kelly at SentryWorld US Senior Open: 'It's huge'

Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly have gone head-to-head for nearly four decades.

The rivalry is coming to a head Sunday at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, a place the Wisconsin natives are very familiar with, for the U.S. Senior Open.

"Some of the best fights you have are with your brothers. That's the way it is," Kelly said. "Now I'm playing against my brothers that I grew up with, and we had some of the fiercest competition, and then we'd go out and have a beer and have a great time afterward."

RELATED: Check out the new and improved FOX Sports app

"That goes way back to junior golf days here at SentryWorld and in our state that I got to know Jerry and be with Jerry," said Stricker.

Jerry Kelly

Thirty-nine years later, the two are competing again where it all began. 

"It's pretty special to be able to come back here full circle, right?" Stricker said.

This time, they will compete for the most coveted championship on the PGA Tour Champions schedule: the U.S. Senior Open.

"To win here would mean a lot. It's a major championship, first of all. It's right here in our backyard, and I've had history on this golf course," said Stricker. "It would be a really cool, really cool spot to win."

Steve Stricker

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

"It's huge. We always called the GMO, we always called the AmFam – well, out here, it's our sixth major, apparently," Kelly said. "It's our fifth major-type mentality. Now we've got a major in the state, so it's a double major? I don't know. Maybe."

Undoubtedly, they are the fan favorites. They're also among the favorites of their competitors, including Ernie Els.

"You can feed off the home crowd. So, you know, they, you get going, you know the crowd gets behind you. It’s a lot of momentum," said Els. "It's got to be a dream to play a major near your home. I think that will be a major factor, especially (for) Steve. He's been playing unbelievable golf this year. Definitely he's going to be right at the top of the leaderboard.

"Jerry Kelly is a great, tough competitor. Whenever you play at home, you feel at home, and there's a little bit of extra motivation to play well in front of your crowd. I would definitely put those two as serious competitors for this week."

Jerry Kelly

Stricker has been the best player on the tour this season, winning four times, including the first two majors – now with an opportunity to win his third straight, an unprecedented accomplishment on the PGA Tour Champions.

"Now it's kind of like, OK, let's just go have fun with this, and I got a different perspective on life and golf lately," Stricker said. "It's just let's go have fun and see where it goes kind of thing. That's kind of the way I'm playing. You can play better that way, I think, and I'm enjoying it a lot."

It fuels Kelly's drive to the top of the leaderboard.

"I'd see him moving up, I want to catch up. If he's behind me – in that rare opportunity that I get when he's behind me – I want to keep going. It just makes us both better," Kelly said.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

Steve Stricker

No matter if it’s Stricker, Kelly or another player in the field, the relationship between the two Wisconsin natives will only continue to grow.

"We don't probably hang out as much as we probably should at home, but when we do, we have a great time. We enjoy being with one another," Stricker said. "He's got a great heart, great family, and love the guy. He's a special guy to our family for sure."

"I consider us extremely close best friends. I mean, the families are very close. We seriously love each other," said Kelly.

It will be a dream come true for either Stricker or Kelly if they’re able to walk off the 18th green Sunday as the national champion at the U.S. Senior Open.