ATLANTA – Tiger Woods might need a new partner for the Presidents Cup.
Steve Stricker, who went 4-0 with Woods as a partner two years ago, said Friday his left arm feels so weak he can’t guarantee being fit enough to play the Presidents Cup on Nov. 17-20 in Australia.
“There’s no question I want to be there,” Stricker said after scrambling to an even-par 70 at the Tour Championship. “I just want to get better. That’s the frustrating thing. And I’ve got to look out for next year. I just feel beat up.”
Stricker has a herniated disk and a bone spur that he first detected last December. His condition improved through exercise, and he went on to win twice this year on the PGA Tour. But the 44-year-old says his left arm has become progressively weaker, and he withdrew from the BMW Championship last week to get a cortisone shot.
He has an MRI scheduled for Tuesday, which he hopes will show the extent of the injury and what he needs to do to get better.
“I’m this close to saying, 'Let’s do surgery' so I can feel good,” he said. “I think this has been going on for a while.”
Stricker is the highest-ranked American golfer at No. 5 in the world, and he finished second in qualifying for the Presidents Cup. If he cannot play, U.S. captain Fred Couples would have a free pick.
Couples already has pledged one of his two picks on Woods, and he was likely not to break up a partnership that delivered the first 4-0 mark ever in the Presidents Cup and the first such record in any cup competition in nearly 30 years.
Stricker and Woods were so strong two years ago that Geoff Ogilvy said of the partnership, “One guy hits every fairway and makes every putt. And his partner is Tiger Woods.”
Stricker said he is at least optimistic since he has no pain. He just doesn’t know why he has so little strength on his left side. It has kept him from a firm grip on the club, from getting through the ball and even keeping both hands on the club.
He still managed to open with a 68-70 at East Lake, leaving him six shots out of the lead. But he is no less concerned.
“One little flinch and I can’t hang onto it,” he said. “That’s the part that’s frustrating. It’s felt rotten every morning. I start hitting balls on the range, and I feel I have no energy, no power on that left side. I struggled early today, and I got a little better. It’s just that I felt tired all the way around. I don’t have energy to hit shots with an all-out effort.”
Stricker said doctors last December, when he first discovered the problem, said he could treat the injury without surgery and it worked. But he stopped working out as much when summer arrived and he played more often, and he wonders if that’s what led to the deteriorating strength.
“I’m hoping that it’s not a big deal, that maybe … I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know that much about it. I’d love to go hit balls right now, but I feel that would be counterproductive. That’s the frustrating part. I don’t know how this is going to get better.”
He said if he was not at full strength in November, “I don’t think it’s fair to the team.”