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Ryder Cup pull still strong for Steve Stricker

September 7, 2016

The Ryder Cup loss at Medinah is what accelerated Steve Stricker's plan to reduce his schedule after 2012.

And it was the Ryder Cup that caused him to fill up his schedule again.

Stricker was not planning to play in any of the FedEx Cup playoff events. His primary goal this year was to finish in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup so he would be eligible for The Players Championship and other tournaments that he enjoys playing.

So what was he doing at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship?

''There's only one reason I'm here,'' he said over the weekend at the TPC Boston, ''and that's to try to make that Ryder Cup team.''

Stricker felt he was a long shot, but he said U.S. captain Davis Love III, assistant captain Tom Lehman and Phil Mickelson kept encouraging him to play. Stricker birdied the last two holes at The Barclays to make the cut, birdied the 72nd hole to assure he would get to Boston and was in position to advance to the third playoff event at Crooked Stick until he closed with a 73.

He all but ruled himself out if he didn't make it to the BMW Championship, suggesting it would be hard to pick a 49-year-old who didn't qualify for the last two FedEx Cup playoff events. Love won't announce his three captain's picks until Monday.

Stricker went 0-4 at Medinah in 2012 when Europe rallied from a 10-6 deficit to win the cup. Stricker made a clutch 10-foot par putt on the final hole, but he had to watch Martin Kaymer make his putt to halve the hole and assure Europe would keep the cup.

And he took it personal.

''That took a lot out of me. It put a sour taste in my mouth,'' Stricker said. ''I wasn't too keyed up on the golf and playing a lot. I wanted to be home and do different things. I felt responsible. I played four times and didn't win a point. It was tough to swallow.''

He will be in Hazeltine as an assistant captain, just as he was for Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014. But it was fascinating to see Stricker go from such a bad experience at one Ryder Cup to adding tournaments to his schedule for a chance to play again.

His 15 PGA Tour starts this year were his most since he played 20 times in 2012.

''I guess I wanted to give it one more shot,'' Stricker said.

He is honest to a fault. Stricker said he had several conversations with his wife, Nicky, about whether it would be prudent to pick him even if he made it to the Tour Championship. He looked at himself as a 49-year-old who failed to qualify. She said he wasn't giving himself enough credit.

''She's trying to fire me up and I'm trying to beat myself down,'' Stricker said with a laugh.

Not making it to Indiana for the BMW Championship was hardly the end of the world. Stricker is in The Players Championship, where his daughters love going because they rent a house on the beach. And he gets to stick to his original plan for next week, anyway.

He's going elk hunting.





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