The fact that Steve Stricker is even in the U.S. Open field is remarkable enough, but his goals for this weekend's major tournament go far beyond just qualifying.
The 50-year-old qualified for the U.S. Open by winning his sectional qualifier last Monday. Because of that, he's eligible to play in this week's tournament at Erin Hills, the first Wisconsin course to host the tournament.
"One of the reasons I wanted to play here is because I knew it would be fun to play here in front of your home crowd," Stricker said Monday following his practice round. "It's our first one in the state. I don't know how many more of these I have in me, so I thought it would be a good one to be a part of and I'm glad I made it and I'm glad I'm here."
Stricker is a 12-time winner on the PGA TOUR, but has never won a major and hasn't won a tournament since 2013.
Still, fellow Wisconsinite and two-time U.S. Open Champion Andy North said he thinks Stricker has a shot to play well this weekend.
"He's here to play in a golf tournament, he's not here to entertain people all week long," North said of the large crowds who are expected to follow Stricker this weekend. "As long as he's about to do that, it's a golf course that I think sets up really well for him."
Stricker is scheduled to tee off from the frist hole at 2:20 p.m. Thursday. He is set to play with veterans Stewart Cink and Phil Mickelson, who will likely pull out of the tournament to attend his daughter's high school graduation.