For a guy that played a reduced schedule in 2013, I sure saw a lot of Steve Stricker this year. The reason we saw him so much, was largely due to the fact that although he only played in 13 events that included the Presidents Cup, he was for the most part, competitive in all thirteen events. Has Stricks given aging Professional golfers a blueprint for survival from age 40 until they can qualify for the Champions Tour at age 50?
It appeared in 2012 that the 46 year-old Stricker(45 in 2012) ran out of gas at the John Deere Classic where he just couldn’t get it done for a fourth time. He had won this tournament, which is in his back yard, from 2009 thru 2011, and although he made a valiant charge, he could only manage a T5 finish.
His effort at the Ryder Cup, and during the FedEx Cup playoffs was dismal. He just looked like a golfer that was fed up with the grind, and didn’t look like he was having fun any longer. The decision to play a reduced schedule in 2013 was probably of the best decisions he ever made.
Steve Stricker’s decision to cut down his schedule in 2013 has proven to all of us that maybe sometimes less is really more. Now Phil Mickelson, and some of the other aging pros are taking a hard look at what worked, and are talking about playing less golf during the year.
Let’s look at the numbers. In 2012, Steve played in 19 events, his only missed cut was at the Players. He got one win at the kick-off event on Maui at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, managed seven top 10′s, and made just North of $3.4 Million Dollars. He finished 10th in the FedEx Cup standings, making the top 15 in only one event at the Deutcshe Bank where he finished T13.
In 2013 playing the reduced schedule, he made 13 cuts in 13 appearances, and although he didn’t pick up a win, he did finish second four times including the WGC-Cadillac where he almost beat Tiger Woods after giving him a putting lesson the previous week at The Honda.
Tiger had looked lost on the greens earlier in the year prior to Stricker giving him a tip in Palm Beach that assuredly gave Tiger the win at Doral.
He had eight top 10′s to go along with 11 top 25′s on the year, and made just shy of $4.5 million dollars. Because he was fresh at the end of the year, he picked up a T 12 at the PGA, and finished no worse than second in all three of the FedEx Cup playoff events that he played in.
I remember hearing the “talking heads” around golf laughing about Steve wanting to spend more time with his family, and doing some hunting instead of grinding it out week after week on the tour. He was even contemplating sitting out the Tour Championship this year in lieu of a hunting trip he had planned with his buddies. He decided to show up at East Lake, and finished in second place.
One of the toughest times in a pro golfer’s career is the ten-year wait to play with the “old guys” on the Champions Tour. They aren’t very competitive playing against the youth, but they aren’t old enough to go yet. I think Steve Stricker has blazed the trail, and shown everyone that “less can mean more” if you take breaks, and rest up more…… It worked for him!
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