Steve Stricker Steve Stricker aims to continue career revival in Tiger Woods' Target World Challenge

After performing a remarkable about-face with his golf career, it seems Steve Stricker is getting tired of answering comeback questions.

Stricker, whose remarkable 2007 season vaulted him to No. 4 in the world golf rankings and earned him PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive year, admitted this week that constant questions about his comeback are starting to get on his nerves.

"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," Stricker told reporters this week. "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. It's two or three years ago. I still answer them, but I'd rather talk about what I've done just recently or what I'm going to do moving forward."

The immediate future will find Stricker competing in an elite 16-player field in the $5.75 million Target World Challenge Dec. 13-16 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The winner will take home $1.35 million in the 72-hole tournament with proceeds to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Stricker will be joined by Woods, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Rory Sabbatini, Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald, Niclas Fasth, Paul Casey, Brett Wetterich, Lee Westwood, Mark Calcavecchia, Colin Montgomerie and Fred Couples. The field includes players from seven different countries and three of last year's four major champions in Johnson (Masters), Harrington (British Open) and Goods (PGA Championship).

"Golf has always been a vehicle so I could touch others and help kids and make sure that they get to feel and experience the things that — the lucky opportunities that I've had in my life," Woods said in a press conference promoting the event. "I've had mentors in my life, I've had people take an interest in me when I could have easily gone down the wrong path, but they've made sure I've stayed on the straight and narrow.

"Not everyone has that type of support. We're here to do that."

For Stricker, it's just a thrill to be considered one of golf's top players. But even though he's ranked among the top four in the world, he said he doesn't consider himself to be in the same class as players like Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Singh.

Why not?

"Because we've always looked at them that way, I guess, (as) the Big Four or the Big Five — whatever you want to say," Stricker said. "I've had two good years and I've snuck in there. I don't see myself as that."

Maybe he should start.

Stricker made 19 of 23 cuts this past season on the PGA Tour and had nine top-10 finishes, including a win at The Barclays. Even with a 13th-place tie in the U.S. Open and eighth-place tie in the British Open, Stricker said his victory was definitely the highlight.

"It was such a long time in between wins," said Stricker, who hadn't won a stroke-play event since 1996. "That definitely was the highlight of my career. And I still, my wife and I talk about it, that did-it-really-happen type of thing. We still can't believe it yet.

"It meant a lot. It just proved to me that the work that I've been doing had paid off and that I'm heading in the right direction."

December 13, 2007

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