Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

At 45, His Focus Is on His Family, Not Golf ; Stricker to Scale Back Schedule and Play Half the Events He Did in 2012

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

At 45, His Focus Is on His Family, Not Golf ; Stricker to Scale Back Schedule and Play Half the Events He Did in 2012

Article excerpt

Steve Stricker, who has won $35 million in his career, made 19 starts in 2012, but he plans to make only about half as many this season.

On his 27th hole of the day, Steve Stricker sat in the fairway and rolled on his back. Stricker had waited 67 hours and 25 minutes to hit the first shot of his title defense at the Tournament of Champions, but a pinched nerve on his left side was causing him so much discomfort, he was not sure he could weather 36 holes on the hilly Plantation Course.

When the event finally got under way Monday morning after a three- day wind delay, Stricker spoke to a rules official and expressed doubts that he would be able to finish. Upon picking himself up off the fairway at the 18th hole, his ninth of the second round, Stricker received the shot of adrenaline that he needed to continue. He holed his third shot for an eagle on his way to a six-under-par 67 and a 36-hole total of eight under, three strokes behind the leader, Dustin Johnson, who posted scores of 69 and 66.

"My tempo is good because I can't hit it very hard," Stricker said. "It was uncomfortable to play, but it never got any worse."

Monday dawned here with gusts of 37 miles, or 60 kilometers, an hour, an unwelcome development given that the window was closing to complete the 54 holes required for an official event. Twice, the golfers had been sent out on the course, only to have their scores voided because heavy winds made the course unplayable.

The winds died down Monday before the first groups went off at 7:10 a.m. and picked up in the afternoon, but the course remained playable because the greens were slower than normal.

The 18-hole finish scheduled for Tuesday would not cause much of a disruption in Stricker's schedule. Instead of continuing on to Honolulu for the next tour stop, an event he has graced almost every year since 1994, Stricker will travel only as far as the other side of Maui. He will spend the rest of the week snorkeling and sightseeing with his wife, Nicki, and their daughters Bobbi, 14, and Isabella, 6.

The pinched nerve has been a nuisance for the past month, but it did not become a nagging pain until he arrived here. Asked if he would have made this stop one of his few starts if he had been in as much pain before the trip, Stricker said: "I'm sure we would have come. The kids would have dragged me over, for sure."

At 45, Stricker is the oldest player in the field, and he is eighth on the career money list, with more than $35 million. Nine of his 12 tour victories have come since he turned 40, which is why his decision to slash his schedule almost in half this year after making 19 starts in 2012 raised some eyebrows.

The decision to step away voluntarily makes Stricker an outlier in a culture that perpetuates the mantra "I compete, therefore I am. …

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