At 46 years old, already in the midst of a reduced playing schedule and coming off a near-miss last month at Merion, Steve Stricker is not afraid to face the possibility of ending his career without a coveted major title. While it's an outcome he would prefer to avoid, Stricker says it's ultimately not one over which he would lose much sleep.
'I'm not disappointed in my career if I were not to win one (major). Obviously it would be icing on the cake for me,' Stricker told reporters Wednesday in advance of the John Deere Classic. 'I went through a period of years there where I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and win one, and I'm kind of over that now.'
The question of majors comes into focus for Stricker this week at TPC Deere Run not only because it marks his first start since the U.S. Open, where he entered the final round firmly in contention but slipped to a tie for eighth, but also because he confirmed that he will be absent from next week's British Open, opting instead to spend time with his wife Nikki as they celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. It's a significant decision for a player who has recorded top-25 finishes in four of the last six years at the season's third major.
'To not go over there, it will sting a little bit when I'm watching on TV,' explained Stricker, who has played in every major since the 2006 PGA Championship, missing the cut only three times while racking up six top-10 finishes in that span. 'For a guy who has not won a major and is trying to win one still, that's probably not the best way to go about it, but that's the way I made up my mind earlier in the year and I'm sticking with it.'
Stricker's 2013 schedule has been something of note; despite beginning the year ranked inside the top 20 in the world, he said at the outset of the year that he would limit his play to approximately 10-12 events, or about half of his normal schedule. It's worked well thus far, as he has finished inside the top 10 four times in just seven starts heading into this week's event in Illinois.
'I'm excited to be at each and every event that I tee it up in,' he noted. 'There's times now that when I'm home for two or three weeks, I can set the clubs down for a week or two and then pick them up the week prior to coming to an event. That's what I'm enjoying.'
Stricker also admitted that the paring of his schedule will not end with next week's vacation in lieu of a trip to Muirfield; he already has another trip planned for the week of the Tour Championship and will finalize the rest of his schedule for August and September based on where he sits in the Presidents Cup standings.
'If I make the team, I may throw in a couple playoff events,' added Stricker, currently ninth in the U.S. team standings. 'I won't play them all.'
Having reached an age where other aspects of his life have now grown in importance, Stricker remains philosophical about his legacy but also maintains a keen focus on the item missing most from his credentials.
'Golf is what I do. It doesn't really define me as a person or anything like that ... I still have another chance this year (at the PGA Championship), and I'll be in the majors again next year to try and win,' he explained. 'But my time is ticking, it's running out for these majors and it gets harder and harder every year.'