Sleep was was a luxury that eluded Steve Stricker in the aftermath of his 0-for-Medinah performance in September’s Ryder Cup matches. Tiger Woods’ long-time partner in team competition, however, has moved on from the pain of his U.S. squad’s stunning collapse and looked forward to defending his Tournament of Champions title in Hawaii next month.
“It's been a challenge to put it out of your mind. I'm not going to lie, the first couple weeks was not a lot of fun,” Stricker said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters ahead of the January 4 start to the 2013 PGA Tour season at Kapalua. “A lot of sleepless nights.”
Stricker failed to earn a point in four contests at Medinah Country Club, went 0-for-3 with Woods, and was on the short end of Martin Kaymer’s tourney-deciding 1-up victory in Sunday’s singles finale. The pain of that loss still stung almost three months later, Stricker acknowledged.
“There's still times. We talked about it, a few of us, at Tiger's event [the World Challenge] a few weeks ago, and it stings everybody,” Stricker confided. “I was talking to [two-time major champion] Andy North -- he had [a] similar situation happen to him in 1985 [when Sam Torrance came from 3-down to beat him and secure a European win]. It still stings him.
“It's just something that hurts a little bit,” Stricker added. “You get it out of your mind. It's not like you think about it all the time.”
Stricker, who has conceded that the Ryder Cup loss was more hurtful than any other disappointment in his 18 years on tour, contended he would not let it influence his play next season.
“It's not going to affect what I do going forward, the type of golf I'm going to play,” he said. “As golfers, you have to be resilient and this is just one of those things that you have to be even more resilient with and try to get it out of your mind and move forward.
“In this game,” Stricker added, “if you think about any of those bad things you're going to drive yourself crazy because a lot of negative things happen in our sport....It's a game of mistakes, it's a game of misses, and if you dwell on all those misses and mistakes, you're not going anywhere. I've been able to do that over my career, to get that stuff out of my mind and move forward. So this is another example where I'm going to have to do that.”
Stricker, who uncharacteristically struggled with his flat stick in 2012 -- when he dropped from second on tour the year before to 67th in the strokes-gained putting statistic -- experimented with a different putter earlier this month but had since put his trusty Odyssey White Hot #2 back in the bag.
“I used [a mallet putter] the first day at the Shark Shootout, and I'm like, I'm hitting some good putts, they're just not going in, and then went back to my other one and started filling it up,” Stricker said. “Yeah, it'll be my old gamer back in play.”
Fourteen of the world’s top 30 golfers will kick off their seasons at Kapalua. In the third year of a three-year contract as title sponsor, Hyundai had yet to re-up beyond January’s tourney, which tends not to attract marquee talent like Woods and Rory McIlroy.
“We don't have anything to announce today, nor will we at the tournament here in a couple weeks,” said Steve Shannon, vice‑president of marketing for Hyundai Motor America. “But I can say that we are having very, very optimistic, very fruitful discussions with the PGA Tour....Nothing to announce, but a lot of good discussions with the PGA Tour.”