Quiet man Stricker leads by example

Steve Stricker earned his first Ryder Cup cap at 41 and even now as the oldest player in the 2012 Ryder Cup he still thinks of himself as someone who has a lot to learn.

"I feel like I'm an old kind of rookie, even though I've played in three of these, it's still a learning experience," said the 45-year-old Stricker, who is making his third consecutive Ryder Cup appearance this week.

Both Stricker and Woods have made no secret that they enjoy playing together in these team events and their record reinforces that.

They formed a formidable partnership in Presidents Cups and in the most recent Ryder Cup in 2010 in Wales where they went 2-1-0.

Stricker says he doesn't expect any of the four rookies to come to him for advice this week but if asked he will gladly give his opinions.

"I do my thing. I'm quiet," Stricker said. "If somebody asks my opinion or asks me a question, I'll offer it up. But I'm not one who's going to be overbearing and be at the forefront.

"I try to be a good team player and if somebody were to ask me a few things here or there, I'd surely love to help anybody out who's asking for it.

"Those guys have been around the block way more than I have, Jim (Furyk) and Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson).

"I think even those guys will tell you it's a learning experience every time we play in one of these events you learn, and if you didn't, I think you're missing something."

Stricker said he and Woods make a good team because they are opposites on the golf course.

"I don't know why guys have struggled. I've enjoyed playing with him," Stricker said.

"We've had some good matches, and we've gotten beat up a couple of times, too.

"Our games are totally different. He bombs it, I'm more of a control player. But I think our ability to scramble, to get it up-and-down, to make some putts here and there I think is our one connection. We hang out in the team room a little bit and we talk a lot, so it's a comfortable pairing for the both of us."

Even with their success last year, Woods still has a losing record in Ryder Cups. Stricker defended Woods' record, saying the 14-time major winner goes out there with a target on his back.

"Everybody wants to beat him," Stricker said. "He's the best player in the world over that period of all these past Ryder Cups.

"Obviously Rory (McIlroy) has been playing well now, but every time Tiger goes out there, guys are gunning for him, and they want to beat him.

"He's kind of a marked man every time he tees is up in one of these events.

"Hopefully we can get off and get him going on a good run this week and get some points. When he was a part of Wales and we were gaining points, that's big momentum when Tiger is gaining points. Guys feed off of that."

Stricker, who is one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour, has made a remarkable comeback after losing his card in 2004.

He comes from nearby Madison, Wisconsin so there will be a lot of familiar faces in the gallery this week at the Medinah Country Club.

"This is kind of right in my backyard," he said. "I have got a lot of family and friends coming down."