When Steve Stricker chose to compete in this week’s Bridgestone Senior Players over the John Deere Classic, chasing history played a part.

Stricker, 52, won the PGA Tour’s John Deere three consecutive years starting in 2009. But beginning Thursday at Firestone Country Club, Stricker will pursue his third major victory on the PGA Tour Champions.

Since the Champions Tour was founded in 1980, only three men have won three senior majors in a season and all are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. If he achieves the feat, Stricker would join Gary Player (1988), Jack Nicklaus (1991) and Bernhard Langer (2017) on that list.

“That did factor into my decision,” Stricker said after Wednesday’s pro-am. “I had heard that there were only [three] other guys that have done it. That was something that motivated me to come here, for sure.

“And I knew what I was getting here as far as the course and the area. I’ve had some minor success here, finished second a couple times, so I enjoy the course and I’m not disappointed. It’s in great shape, the best I’ve seen.”

Stricker never won a major on the PGA Tour, but broke through with a 6-stroke victory in the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 12. Then on June 30, with his wife, Nicki, again caddying for him, he shot a record-setting 19-under total in the U.S. Senior Open in Notre Dame, Indiana, again winning by 6.

Stricker said he doesn’t know why he’s having success in majors this year.

“I take every event very seriously,” Stricker said. “The Senior Open ... it’s a USGA event and those I always held a little bit higher in stature as far as my tournaments go. To finally win one of those was pretty special. I had Nicki on the bag and my kids there. It was a great week.”

Nicki Stricker was her husband’s regular caddie for his first four years on the tour until 1998, when she delivered the first of their two daughters, Bobbi (20) and Isabella (13). Stricker said this year has been by far the most Nicki has caddied recently — she picked up more when Jimmy Johnson left to join Justin Thomas in 2015 — and their girls have also been traveling.

“I love having her out there,” Stricker said of his wife. “After the U.S Senior Open, she’s like, ‘I’m done for now.’ She was tired. Emotionally, too, it takes a lot out of you. Trying to win that and you’re leading every round, the tee times on the weekend were 3:25 in the afternoon.”

Stricker played in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone eight times, tying for second in 2012, 1 shot behind Keegan Bradley. In those eight, he recorded three top 10s and five top 25s. He also tied for second in the 1996 NEC World Series of Golf, finishing 3 shots behind Phil Mickelson. Stricker’s last appearance in Akron was in 2014, when he tied for 63rd.

Stricker has made seven starts on the PGA Tour this season and this will be his ninth on the Champions Tour. He said he’ll probably play exclusively on the senior circuit starting in 2021, but his duties as the 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup captain for the competition at Whistling Straits in his home state of Wisconsin keep him with the younger players for now.

“Next year I’ll still play some on the regular tour, hopefully a few more events to make sure that I’m visible ... and just get to know some of the younger guys maybe on that team,” Stricker said. “What I’m focusing on for next year is splitting my time again, then probably after that I’ll be out here full time.

“It’s been a challenge to figure out which direction I’m going.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.