Semi-retirement most definitely agrees with Steve Stricker, a four-time Presidents Cup team member who, in 2013, enjoyed one of his most successful years on the PGA Tour despite -- or, perhaps, thanks to -- a reduced playing schedule.
Stricker, who intended to skip the season-ending Tour Championship in favor of a hunting trip with chums, ended up tied for second with rookie sensation Jordan Spieth at East Lake and third overall in the FedExCup race. Along the way, the 46-year-old winner of 12 Tour events partnered with Spieth in a practice round ahead of the FEC finale and reportedly picked the pockets of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.
The Wisconsin cheesehead was so successful in the season just ended, in which he recorded four second-place results as well as six additional top-10 finishes in 13 starts, that Mickelson acknowledged he may adopt a Stricker-like schedule (and one that Tiger Woods has kept for some time now) going forward.
Stricker, who will play on his fifth Presidents Cup squad when the Americans take on the International this week at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village, has an 11-8 record in the biennial matches. And though he has been Woods’ traditional go-to guy in team events, as well as the world No. 1's putting tutor, Stricker may be ready to ditch his long-time partner in favor of some new blood.
U.S. assistant captain Davis Love III, and the skipper at the helm when the Euros deep-sixed the U.S. at Medinah in last year’s Ryder Cup, told Golf.com that the Stricker-Woods union could be headed for rough waters. The pair compiled an 0-3 record as the Americans’ hopes of winning their first Ryder Cup since 2008 went the way of the Titanic.
"I think you’ll see some differences from what we did at the Ryder Cup," Love said. "Woods and Stricker, they’ve enjoyed playing together, but I think they might be tired of playing together."
Look for Stricker, who has earned the reputation as one of the most reliable putters in the game, to hitch back up with Spieth this week at Jack’s place.
World Ranking: 7
Qualified: Automatic spot No. 7 of 10
Presidents Cup Match Play Record: 11-8 (1996, 2007, 2009, 2011)