The Loop

Why Steve Stricker might be playing a LOT of golf in the next week

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Steve Stricker remembers well the first time he tried to qualify for the U.S. Open.

"I know where I was going … I had to be … no, I don't exactly. I couldn't tell you," Stricker said Tuesday, drawing laughs. "I had to be in high school, I would have thought. Do you know for sure? Can you provide me any help?"

Sorry, we can't. But Stricker knows when his next qualifying start could be: Monday here at two Columbus-area golf courses.

Aside from voluntarily skipping the British Open the last two years, Stricker hasn't missed a major championship since 2006, also at the British Open. The run could end, however, with the 115th U.S. Open in two weeks at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., though he has two chances to yet break into the 156-player field.

A victory at this week's 40th Memorial Tournament would likely provide enough world ranking points to lift him from his current 94th place into the top 60, which would earn him an automatic berth. Failing that, he'll compete in Monday's 36-hole sectional qualifier at The Lakes CC and Brookside G&CC, usually one of the largest and toughest of the 11 sectionals because it draws so many competitors from the Memorial.