Eyes on arizona

Ryder Cup 2023: Steve Stricker keeping eye on wife Nicki, playing in her first USGA championship in 31 years

September 30, 2023

Maddie Meyer/PGA of America

ROME — Steve Stricker has his mind on match play golf on two continents this weekend.

As a vice captain this week under Zach Johnson, Stricker, the man who masterminded the record U.S. victory in 2021 at Whistling Straits, has been engaged in trying to find answers to alter America’s flagging fortunes in the 44th Ryder Cup. Meanwhile, his heart is nine time zones away, in Scottsdale, Ariz., where his wife Nicki, is making her debut in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.

Nicki Stricker qualified for the 61st Senor Women’s Am at Troon Country Club by shooting a seven-over-par 77 at Glenview (Ill.) Park Golf Club to earn one of four available spots. It will be the second USGA championship for the former Nicki Tiziani, whose father Dennis has been her husband’s longtime coach. Stricker competed in the 1992 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Kemper Lakes in Long Grove, Ill., where she advanced to match play.

Stricker, 54, begins two rounds of stroke-play qualifying Saturday at 12:10 p.m. MST on the 5,797-yard, par-72 layout. Coincidentally, one of her two playing partners is Giuliana Colavita of Italy.

Just because she hasn’t played in a USGA championship in 31 years doesn’t mean Nicki hasn’t been around them. She caddied for Steve when he won the 2021 U.S. Senior Open at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Ind., and was on the bag for her husband in July when he finished runner-up in the same championship to Bernhard Langer at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wis.

A three-time Madison City women’s champion and former University of Wisconsin golfer, where she played for her father, Stricker also has watched her two daughters play competitive golf. So she figured it was time she joined the family pursuit of trophies.

“I just was playing with my family. They’re all doing their thing and working toward something,” Nicki told Wisconsingolf.com recently. “I kept trying to get better, but what am I trying to get better for? It was just that—to kind of see what would happen if I was actually getting ready for something. Just throw a score up there and see what happens.”

Steve, of course, was keeping in touch with his wife and trying to support her as much as he could while engrossed in the proceedings at Marco Simone.

“It’s pretty cool that she made it and is out there trying,” he said. “I hope she can make it to match play and then see how far she can go. Really proud of her.”