Golf spotlight

Husband, wife duo a success

 

Special to The Miami Herald

Amid the steely-faced business of trying to win a prestigious golf tournament at Doral this past week, many of the onlookers were somewhat surprised when they saw that a woman was caddying for Steve Stricker, the eventual runner-up.

A woman on the bag is unusual, but not all that unusual. However, Stricker took it one step further.

The woman lugging his bag was his wife, Nicki.

Apparently, they make a good — and successful — golf combination. After all, the Stricker family is $880,000 richer after four days of striding the fairways of The Blue Monster.

Stricker finished at 17-under-par 271 for the four rounds in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral Golf Club and Resort, leaving him two strokes behind winner Tiger Woods. Meanwhile, Nicki finished with a slightly sore shoulder (those golf bags are heavy) and a smile on her face.

“She’s out there giving me moral support, talking positively all the time,” Steve said. “She does really good with that kind of stuff. It’s just nice having her out there.”

At one point, Nicki — who comes from a golfing family — was her husband’s full-time caddie.

Nicki first started caddying for Steve when he was on the mini-tour. “Probably to save money,” Steve said. Then, when Steve made the PGA Tour in 1994, they decided things were going well and to just keep everything the same and she continued to be his full-time caddie.

Then, Bobbi Maria, now 14, was born and caddying became much more problematic. Then Isabella Nicole, now 5, was born and it became even more problematic. “It had to go away just because we couldn’t make it work,” Steve said.

However, both Steve and Nicki missed the experience of being a team on the course.

“We don’t get to do it very often anymore,” Steve said. “We try to do it once a year maybe, and it’s always fun to kind of relive some of the memories when she was caddying for me full-time.”

Steve was asked if he ever snaps at his wife while she is caddying.

“No, I can’t do that,” he quickly responded.

Then he went on to tell a story about him, Nicki and Corey Pavin at the 1996 Presidents Cup.

“Corey and I were partners and I fluffed one out of the bunker, and I just went around and took a big swipe of sand with my iron. It was like a 6- or 7- or 8-iron. I just layered a belt of sand right at Nicki, in her hair.

“And, to this day, Corey keeps asking her, ‘Hey, have you got all the sand out of your hair?’ Yeah, I watch what I do around her,” he said with a laugh.

Then he gave the bottom line: “It’s fun, and it’s great to be out there with her.”

Puttering Around

• Barry University named Shannon Sykora as coach of the women’s golf team. He has served as the acting coach since June.

“I’m grateful to the university for giving me the opportunity to continue fostering success in the classroom and on the golf course,” Sykora said.

The two previous seasons, Sykora has been the assistant coach of the men’s and women’s teams. Sykora played professionally for 12 years, competing in two PGA Tour tournaments.

Barry University’s No.  1 nationally ranked men’s golf team came from nine strokes back in the final round of the First Federal Southeastern Collegiate tournament in Valdosta, Ga., to win its second tournament of the spring and third of the 2012-13 season.

Barry junior Jared Dalga shot his best round as a Buccaneer after transferring from Eastern Michigan in the fall with a 4-under 68 in the final round.

• FIU closed out its first spring tournament of 2013, claiming second place at the Sir Pizza Terrapin Challenge held on the Senator Course at Shula’s Golf Club. North Carolina State won the event with 10-over 874, ahead of FIU’s 22-over 886.

Freshman Meghan McLaren was the Panthers’ highest finisher, taking fifth with a three-round total of 2-over 218.

• Nova Southeastern’s Linnea Johansson, a freshman from Sweden, won her second straight Sunshine State Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week honor.

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