Steve Stricker will try to defend his title at this week’s Tournament of Champions at Kapalua and then likely not play another PGA Tour event until February’s Match Play Championship.
Tiger Woods’ long-time partner in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team competition will focus on the season’s four major championships as he reduces his 2013 play to some 10 tournaments, Stricker told Golfweek’s Alex Miceli last month. The 45-year-old from Wisconsin, who has exemptions into all four majors and will be the oldest player in the field this week, said he was not retiring but planned to spend more time with his family and a foundation he recently established. The philanthropy has yet to have a name or specific goal, but Stricker said his aim was to help high schoolers pay for college.
Stricker, who won the Hawaiian kickoff to the 2012 season by three strokes over Martin Laird, cited the grind of playing a fuller schedule (19 events last year) as one reason for cutting back on his playing time.
“I’m not quitting,” said the 12-time tour winner who will start the 2013 campaign as No. 18 in the world golf rankings. “I still enjoy playing, but I don’t enjoy the travel.”
Stricker has victories in each of his last four seasons and enjoyed his most successful year in 2009, when he recorded three tour triumphs and finished second on the money list. He’s a two-time Comeback Player of the year but has conceded he has had a more difficult time rebounding from the Americans’ Ryder Cup collapse (and his 0-4 performance) than any other misfortune, including the loss of his PGA card in 2005, in his 22-year professional career.
“That was probably the most pressure I’ve ever been under,” Stricker said after losing the deciding match to Martin Kaymer on the 18th hole. “It was tough, very tough. I don’t think I will ever experience that kind of pressure again.”