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Monday, January 3, 2011
GWAA recognizes Stricker with award


As far as awards go, this one might not occupy the most prominent spot on Steve Stricker's mantle. He could even feel a bit sheepish, especially among his peers, for being lauded by the media.

One of golf's nice guys was honored this week by the Golf Writers Association of America with its Jim Murray/ASAP Sports Award. It recognizes a golfer for his positive dealings with the media.

Stricker, ranked seventh in the world and a nine-time PGA Tour winner, beat out Stewart Cink and Tom Lehman, both of whom certainly qualify as well.

Others to win the award in its 10-year history were Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Juli Inkster, Nancy Lopez, Nick Price, Jay Haas, Fred Funk, Gary Player and Padraig Harrington.

The common theme among them all is their cooperativeness, especially during a time when media demands are more intense than ever.

Nicklaus is the first to admit that during his prime, he did not have the media requests of a top player today. In addition to the network rights-holders, there are newspapers, Internet outlets, local television stations and bloggers.

Stricker, 43, has been a stand-up guy, especially during a career resurgence that saw him win the PGA Tour's comeback player of the year award in consecutive years as well as six victories since 2007.

As a top-ranked player, he has become a go-to guy for media folks looking for insight. And he flat-out had to be worn out last year by all the Tiger Woods questions, given his friendship and Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup partnerships with the 14-time major winner.

Even at last month's Chevron World Challenge, where Stricker was trying to chip off the rust from a seven-week break, he found himself paired with Woods during the opening round -- and then answering numerous questions about Woods' game afterward.

Perhaps beyond that, Stricker seems to understand that by answering questions thoughtfully and thoroughly, he is also helping promote his sport -- while also maybe giving a boost to that week's sponsor.

Then again, maybe he's just too nice to say no.

Regardless, his efforts are appreciated.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.