Enough, already!

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

Only a week into the new season, Steve Stricker doesn't want to reflect back on the events that led to a memorable 2007 on the PGA Tour.

It was a season that saw Stricker win his first event since 2001 and be named comeback player of the year on the Tour for a second consecutive year.

The two-time winner on the Canadian Tour may want to let go, but the same can't be said for those intrigued by his remarkable story. And who can blame them? This guy took the long way from the outhouse to the penthouse.

"It's getting to my nerves to tell you the truth," Stricker said at last month's Target World Challenge. "I try to be as polite as possible and I do answer the questions, but it's been three years and I've had two really solid years.

"I feel like that's way on the back burner now and I've been looking forward and looking to what I want to continue to do and not look so much in the past anymore. So, when people do bring it up, it does tend to bother me a little bit. It's a nice story, but it's an old story is the way I feel about it."

This past weekend, Stricker was in Hawaii for the Mercedes-Benz Championship, where he was in contention along with Mike Weir and Stephen Ames, who redefined the word "paradise" for vacationing Canadians with their play going into yesterday's final round.

The season opener -- for winners only from the previous year -- is a ticket that Stricker earned for his win at The Barclays in August and, as exotic as Hawaii is, it's his long, arduous journey that landed him there that must make life among the palm trees that much sweeter.

Stricker fell as low as 337th in the world rankings in 2005, a year in which he missed getting his card at qualifying school. He didn't let that distasteful fate get to him and he started whacking golf balls into the snow in Madison, Wisc., to get his game in shape for a 2006 season that was pieced together.

Using sponsor exemptions and other means, Stricker managed seven top-10s and finished 34th on the money list to set up his remarkable 2007 season. Winning two consecutive comeback player of the year awards is a unique accomplishment, but a legendary 2008 season would be required for three in a row.

"Looking at this year, I feel like this is another year for me to try to come out and prove again what I did this last year. I need to be prepared. I'm not resting on anything. I'm not resting on my laurels at all," said Stricker, who will also play in this week's Sony Open in Hawaii.

"I think just my overall game has been a lot more consistent. I'm driving it a little bit better. I looked at my stats comparing this year to other years and it was a little bit better. It wasn't as good as the '06 season, but it's definitely gotten better.

"I feel like I'm a little more in control of my game now. My iron game is better and my chipping and my putting has always been decent. The overall game has gotten a little bit better."

Stricker became a sentimental favourite in the FedEx Cup, in which he finished second to Tiger Woods in overall standings. Shortly afterwards, he posted a respectable 3-2 record in his first Presidents Cup since 1996, setting up a goal for this season.

"Ryder Cup," he said. "I look at that as something that I have not done.

"I had a blast being a part of that (1996) Presidents Cup team and it's been a long time since. To be together again with all those guys (in Montreal) was a pretty special event. I've never been on a Ryder Cup team and that would be awesome," said Stricker, who finished the year fourth in the world rankings.

That lofty standing puts Stricker in exclusive company that includes Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els, a group that has, at times, been known as the Big Four or Big Five. Being a part of that is a concept that Stricker just doesn't get.

"I've had two good years and I've snuck in there. I don't see myself as that, no," he said.

"You know, maybe that's just my way of trying to provide me with some sort of motivation to try to get better, to try to work hard at it to keep moving my way up."

CANADIAN TOUR HONOURS

Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., was named the Canadian rookie of the year as the Canadian Tour handed out its annual awards recently.

DeLaet, 25, finished 13th on the Order of Merit and collected seven top-10s in 14 appearances.

Spencer Levin, 23, was named overall rookie of the year after the Californian won twice and earned seven top-10s in 10 tournaments. He will play on the Nationwide Tour this year.

Another Californian, Byron Smith, took player-of-the-year honours after winning twice and leading the Order of Merit.


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