Stricker: I really don’t know what to expect

The 48-year-old underwent surgery for a bulging disk in his lower back just before Christmas and was not cleared to use his driver until three weeks ago. 

However, Stricker will consider his Masters campaign to be a success if he manages to make the cut and continue playing on the weekend. 

"It's like cramming for a test a little bit, you know?" he told the Journal Sentinel. "I think if I could make the cut and play on the weekend, I think that would be great. That sounds kind of funny, but it's just that I have no idea where I'm at."

In order to get prepared for the Masters, Stricker played two practice rounds at Augusta National last week. However, his preparations have become more serious since he returned to the course on Sunday and he has played nine-hole practice rounds every day since then. 

When asked about his back injury, Stricker revealed that he felt "fairly strong" and added that all his pain has disappeared. 

"I feel fairly strong," he said. "All my pain has gone away, all the tingling going down my leg has gone away. So it's just about building up strength and walking around, getting in golf shape. That's a challenge.

"I worked out pretty hard at home and did all the rehab I was supposed to do. But you can't simulate this stuff, walking up and down the hills, standing on your feet all day. I'm starting to feel a little stronger doing that every day."

Stricker's best finish at the Masters came in 2009, where he tied for sixth place and the veteran golfer is hoping for a better finish this time round. 

"I really don't know what to expect so I think this year is completely different," he said. "But I still think I can contend in one of these. This week would be tough, probably, but I'm not ruling it out.

"I expect to play well. I feel like I can play well. I'm doing some good things out here. Whether it's consistent enough over four days will be another thing. But I expect to play well and I expect to play here on the weekend.

"Looking back after I'm done, if I do play the weekend, I think I'd be happy with that. But I still expect a lot out of myself."