KAPALUA, Hawaii — At the end of another long year, and only a month away from the start of another season, Steve Stricker quietly posed a question that sounded out of place for a guy with more than $25 million in PGA Tour earnings over the past six years.
“What if I went to Kapalua to defend and didn’t play again the rest of the year?"
When he arrived on the shores of Maui for the season-opening Tournament of Champions, he had reached a compromise. Stricker, who turns 46 next month, is going into semi-retirement. When he leaves Kapalua, he won’t return again until the Match Play Championship at the end of February.
He’ll play the majors and World Golf Championships that are held in America, maybe a few other tournaments to get ready for the majors, and the John Deere Classic, which has become his hometown event ever since the Greater Milwaukee Open went away.
“I’ve proved to myself I could come back," said Stricker, once mired in a slump so severe he was voted PGA Tour comeback player — two years in a row. “I had a great run the last six years. I think it’s just the travel, the time away. When I get home, I’m not there. I’m focused on where I go next. When I do something, I’m in it. I’ve had enough of being totally focused on golf and my life. And I wanted to not have it be about me anymore."
Stricker faces a 30-man field of PGA Tour winners that is missing some of the top stars, no longer unusual in this global landscape of golf with Europeans competing deep into November and some international players, such as Ernie Els, starting next week in South Africa. Among those absent from Kapalua are Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Justin Rose, the top four players in the world ranking.
— The Associated Press