Stricker scaling way back on events in 2013

By Doug FergusonJanuary 3, 2013, 8:32 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – At the end of another long year, and only a month away from the start of another season, Steve Stricker quietly posed a question that sounded out of place for a guy with more than $25 million in PGA Tour earnings over the last six years.

''What if I went to Kapalua to defend and didn't play again the rest of the year?''

When he arrived on the shores of Maui for the season-opening Tournament of Champions, he had reached a compromise. Stricker, who turns 46 next month, is going into semi-retirement. When he leaves Kapalua, he won't return again until the Match Play Championship at the end of February.


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He'll play the majors and World Golf Championships that are held in America, maybe a few other tournaments to get ready for the majors, and the John Deere Classic, which has become his hometown event ever since the Greater Milwaukee Open went away.

''I've proved to myself I could come back,'' said Stricker, once mired in a slump so severe he was voted PGA Tour comeback player - two years in a row. ''I had a great run the last six years. I think it's just the travel, the time away. When I get home, I'm not there. I'm focused on where I go next. When I do something, I'm in it. I've had enough of being totally focused on golf and my life. And I wanted to not have it be about me anymore.''

Stricker is wired differently from most. He gets as much pleasure taking his kids to school in Wisconsin as winning golf tournaments. He would rather spend his fall in a deer stand with a bow than on the practice green with his putter.

He has been thinking about cutting back for the last few years, only the decision was never easy. Not when he was as high as No. 2 in the world, a regular on U.S. teams in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.

Even with some winter stubble after nine holes of practice on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, he looked fresh and ready to go.

''I'm excited about the year because I finally made this decision to scale back,'' he said. ''You know me. I've been this way since Day One. I've never played a lot. I enjoy my time at home, and I've tossed around this idea with my family the last couple of years. Finally making a decision to scale back has lifted a little bit of a burden from me. I'm just as excited to play this week as I've ever been.''

Stricker won the Tournament of Champions a year ago for his 12th career win, although that turned out to be the highlight of his year. In one of the more peculiar trends, he became the third straight player to win the PGA Tour's opener and not win again the rest of the year.

He faces a 30-man field of PGA Tour winners that is missing some of the top stars, no longer unusual in this global landscape of golf with Europeans competing deep into November, and some international players, such as Ernie Els, starting next week in South Africa. Among those absent from Kapalua are Rory McIlroyTiger Woods, Luke Donald and Justin Rose, the top four players in the world ranking.

Stricker won't see many of them until he gets to Arizona for the Match Play Championship.

At least he's not walking away entirely. Over the last few weeks, he looked at the schedule and didn't feel he could miss the big events, particularly the majors. He hasn't set a number of events he wants to play, but it will be somewhere around 10.

What to do with all that free time? It won't be limited to a car pool or a deer stand. Stricker is forming a foundation with a new sponsor, American Family Insurance, with the goal of helping adolescents. The seed money comes from the charity donation he received for winning the Payne Stewart Award and playing on the Ryder Cup team.

His other sponsors – Titleist, Avis and the New York Stock Exchange – are behind his decision to cut back. Stricker has restructured his endorsement deals because he is playing less, and he plans to do more personal days with clients.

''I was prepared to lose all that, I really was,'' Stricker said. ''For the most part, they're happy for me.''

He still hasn't talked to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. Stricker is one of the most popular figures on Tour because of the way he treats people. For now, this semi-retirement does not include The Players Championship or even the FedEx Cup playoffs, even if he has a reasonable shot at the $10 million bonus.

He would play the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup if he qualifies. With his limited schedule, he would be playing some good golf.

And yes, he'll still practice. His 14-year-old daughter, Bobbi Maria, is a natural athlete who is getting into golf. There were a few times last year she wanted to go to the golf course with his dad, but Stricker feared he wouldn't get any work done on his game.

''Now I can put in some time with her,'' Stricker said. ''She's talked about hitting more balls in the winter. I can spend more time with her doing that, and playing with her in the summer if she wants to.''

The strongest part of her game? Stricker smiled.

''She putts good,'' he said.

Part of Stricker wishes he had done this sooner, but the time didn't seem right. He would emerge from his fall break to play in the World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods, and then Greg Norman's Shootout in Florida, and he found himself not wanting to leave.

''The coolest part is I'm playing as good as I ever have,'' Stricker said. ''I've accomplished a lot of things. I proved to myself I can come back from where I was and I played great for an extended period of time. The major thing is missing, but that's not hugely important to me. I don't have to win a major. Obviously, I'd love to. But it's not going to define who I am. It's all good. I feel like I'm doing this for the right reason.

''I felt like it would be a bold move a couple of years ago, and I think it's a bold move now,'' he said. ''Some people might think it's not a good idea. But I think it is for me.''

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry