MARANA, Ariz. -- After a short match in the first round, Steve Stricker needed extra holes on Friday. Three extra holes, to be exact.
Stricker, the 2001 Accenture Match Play champ, outlasted fellow American Nick Watney in 21 holes to advance to the third round for the fourth time in 11 starts in this event.
Stricker played bogey-free golf for his final 13 holes. Watney carded just two bogeys, both coming in the first three holes of the match before he ran off a string of 18 bogey-free holes.
"It was a good hard-fought match," said Stricker, who needed just 14 holes to beat David Toms in the first round. "I knew it would be tough to finish him off."
Watney was 2 down after 13 but produced four birdies in his next five holes to square the match going into the 18th hole. For the round, he hit 71 percent of his greens and 81 percent of his fairways.
After halving three consecutive holes, including the first two playoff holes, Stricker won the match at the par-3 third with a brilliant tee shot to within 6 feet. Meanwhile, Watney found the greenside bunker and pitched out to 11 feet before conceding the hole and the match.
"I feel fortunate to get through," Stricker said. "Any one of those extra holes could've gone either way."
SCORECARD STATS: Stricker carded seven birdies and one bogey. Watney carded one eagle, five birdies and two bogeys.
HOLES WON: Stricker won five holes. Watney won three holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Stricker plays Scott Piercy in the third round of the Snead bracket.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Steve Stricker won the first three holes in his match against Henrik Stenson and never looked back, cruising to a 5 and 4 win in the first round.
Stricker, the 2001 Accenture Match Play champ, will now play fellow American Nick Watney in the second round of the Snead bracket.
Stricker, a No. 4 seed, had won two holes on Wednesday before play was halted, then won the third hole when the match resumed Thursday. He lost the fourth hole with a bogey -- the only hole he lost in the match -- but bounced back with a birdie at the fifth hole when he rolled in a putt from 16-1/2 feet.
After that, he steadily built his lead, withnning the seventh and 13th holes with pars. Stenson, who won this event in 2007, had just one birdie in his 14 holes played.
"Henrik didn't play his best, and I played steady," Stricker said. "I didn't make really too many mistakes, didn't make a lot of birdies either, but just didn't make too many mistakes."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Steve Stricker turns 46 on Saturday. He's hardly heading for golf's greener pastures but he has realized he needs to make some concessions to age and ailments.
To be sure, Stricker is still one of the game's best, ranked 16th in the world, in fact, to earn his spot in this week's World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, a tournament he won in 2001. But he can't handle the wear and tear on his body the way he could 10 years ago and his last event was evidence.
Stricker put on a game title defense at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, finishing third despite pain that crept down his leg and into his foot as he walked the hills of the Plantation Course at Kapalua. He went home to Wisconsin, had an MRI and discovered he was suffering from a herniated C5 disc.
"I got a cortisone shot (in his back) that same week," Stricker said. "And really from that point on, I've been feeling good. And I've done a lot of physical therapy, a lot of strengthening of my back and left side, and I feel really strong. No pain at all anymore in my butt or down my leg.
"So it's been good, knock on wood, and hopefully continue down that road of maintenance."
Stricker announced late last year that he would cut back his schedule in 2013 and the specifics now appear to have taken shape. Stricker said Tuesday the remainder of his schedule would include the three majors in the United States, as well as THE PLAYERS Championship, likely the Shell Houston Open and the John Deere Classic, which he has won three times.
As it stands now, though, Stricker -- who earned the nickname Mr. September for his prowess during the FedExCup Playoffs -- doesn't plan to be part of the chase for the $10 million bonus.
"Right now the plan is not to play any of the FedExCup at all and just shut it down right after the PGA," Stricker said. "Probably won't play any of the fall events, either, so I'll be at home a lot, maybe play a couple times in December to get ready for the early part of next year."
Stricker, who has not hit a shot in competition in six weeks, enjoyed the extended break. He has a heated bay back home in Madison, Wisc., where he can hit balls into the snow and he has made good use of it in the last couple of weeks. He also headed to Phoenix a few days early to take advantage of the warm sunshine so he feels ready for his opening match with Henrik Stenson on Wednesday.
"Really for me, this is par for the course," Stricker said. "I don't mind coming off of long breaks and getting my game in shape. ... (I) came down here on Sunday. I've got a lot of golf under my belt in a short period of time, and my game feels good.
"I'm excited to be here, and that's worth something, too. Your excitement level goes on when you don't play a lot. -I'm looking forward to playing, and hopefully play well the next few days."
By Ann Miller for PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Maui — Somehow, Steve Stricker made it work in Tuesday’s final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Stricker, the 45-year-old defending champion, had a putt to tie 28-year-old Dustin Johnson on the 13th green. Stricker missed, Johnson crushed his next drive, chipped in for eagle and ultimately won by four.
“I actually thought, as we started the round today, I could really put some serious pressure on this guy because I’m going to hit first every time to the green,” said Stricker, who shot a bogey-free 69. “If I can put it inside there and start making a little run and make some birdies, if I continually hit it in there on him, that’s to my advantage.
“And that just didn't work the way I was thinking, but it’s always a possibility.”
Particularly in Hawaii. At Kapalua Plantation, Stricker is 90 under in his last 20 rounds. He has six top 10s at the Sony Open in Hawaii, which starts Thursday.
But Johnson was too much this windy time around at Kapalua. They were strange looking pair, the young guy with the prodigious drives and the only 40-year-old in the field, walking with a limp because of a shooting pain on his left side that has been bothering Stricker the last month.
He never blinked Tuesday.
“I had an opportunity, which is why we play is to have that opportunity to try to win,” Stricker said. “I had some chances today. I had some chances to put some pressure on early. Missed some putts there early in the round that could have made a difference, maybe not, but who knows-type thing.
“It was a good week. Looking forward to getting rid of this little nagging thing I’ve got going down my leg and looking forward to playing again at the (WGC-Accenture) Match Play.”
That’s six weeks away, giving Stricker time to get well and enjoy the first break of many. He will only play “10 or 12” events this year as he cuts back. That life-changing choice changed him this week.
“Maybe that’s why I played well, too,” Stricker said. “I didn’t expect a lot. I had this different attitude about playing a little bit less, and I felt a little more comfortable and the pressure was taken off me this week, too. So I’m hoping that kind of translates like this into the rest of the season.”
He is hoping he won’t see winds like Kapalua’s again anytime soon. Gusts up to 50 mph forced TOUR officials to start Hyundai with 36 holes Monday — the day it was supposed to end.
Somehow a week that began with questions about his health and was plagued with poor weather turned into another great time in Hawaii for Stricker, who has now won nearly $5 million here.
“Everybody took it great,” Stricker said. “And the rules officials did a great job working with us and trying to get everybody out there and around. I thought yesterday was a great setup that they did. They shortened the course. They gave us rides on some holes.
“I don’t think this will put a damper on Maui or the Hyundai Tournament of Champions or anything. I thought everything went as well as could be expected given the circumstances with the weather. Guys will be itching to get back here. I’m going to work hard to try to get back here again. It’s a special place to start the year.”
Steve Stricker celebrates with his caddie after holing out for eagle on No. 18. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Maui -- The PGA TOUR got very fortunate to complete 36 holes on Monday. Both the golf course and the wind were right on the edge for most of the day. Just as the second round began, two golf balls moved on the greens during wind gusts. TOUR officials were ready to halt play but the winds subsided just enough for the tournament to continue. A brief morning rain injected just enough moisture into the greens, which rolled out at 8.6 in the stimpmeter. The course, the wind, the rain and the green speed were all just marginal enough for competition to continue.
Winds: Just because 36 holes were completed and just because Dustin Johnson is 11 under, don’t think Monday was an easy day of golf. The wind blew between 20-25 miles an hour and gusts hovered in the upper 30s. The conditions allowed for some strange yardages. Johnson hit a couple 9 irons 100 yards into the wind and hit one sand wedge 160 yards that he described as, “not quite a full wedge but close.”
Nerves: It was far from a walk in the park for Steve Stricker. It was more like a long limp home. Stricker walked 36 holes with a nerve problem in his upper thigh that shot pain down into his leg. He was in obvious discomfort and would lie down in the fairway between shots to stretch. He was able to shoot 6-under 67 in the second round by putting well. Stricker took just 26 putts. He said the nerve issue started in December and cautioned officials he might withdraw at the start of the opening round. There is nothing like shooting 6 under to alleviate some of the pain.
Driving: Dustin Johnson put a new TaylorMade driver into his bag and leads the tournament in driving distance at 307.6 yards. He attacked the Plantation Course even in the high winds with phenomenal drives. Johnson putted for eagle on four different occasions on the back nine alone, shooting 5 under on the quartet of holes. The distance off the tee also enabled him to hit 33 of 36 greens despite finding just 15 of 30 fairways.
Conflict: Amanda Dufner faced a decision. Would she watch her husband Jason play his second round of golf or would she sneak off to the clubhouse to watch football? Her alma mater won. Amanda is a University of Alabama graduate and she enjoyed the National Championship game and outcome. Roll Tide.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
By Ann Miller, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- After winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last year, Steve Stricker told the story about his daughter winning a junior event at their home course in Wisconsin several years ago.
"She won the three-hole tournament," Stricker recalled, "and she's like, 'Mom, do we get to go to Hawaii now?' "
Her father always does. Stricker turns 46 next month. Of his 12 wins, all but four have come since 2009. Last year's win was his fourth straight top 10 at Kapalua's Plantation Course, where the PGA TOUR kicks off its 2013 season Friday.
Before that three-shot victory over Martin Laird, Stricker was zero-for-Hawaii. In 17 starts in the state, he had nine Top-10 finishes — six at the Sony Open — and won more than $3 million. His 74 on the final day at Waialae Country Club last year was only the fourth time in 50 rounds he did not break par at Sony.
But he had never actually won.
Now he has and, coincidentally or not, he is planning to cut his playing schedule "in half" this year. He hopes to play just "10 or 12" tournaments and spend more time with his family and a new foundation dedicated to kids and co-founded with Madison-based American Family Insurance.
He cleared the cutback with his sponsors in November.
"This is a commitment for me to do this from here on out," Stricker said. "You know, I'm not quitting. I don't want to quit. I still enjoy the game. I still enjoy competing. It's just time for me to be home a little bit more and maybe focus all my attention to this foundation and do that a little bit more.
"I still plan on playing this year, maybe not the British, but the majors, the World Golf Championships events and I'll throw in a few other ones here or there to get ready for those. That's the plan."
The idea is to take the focus off golf -- "a pretty selfish sport," he said -- and put it on his wife and daughters, and the new foundation. Wife Nicki used to carry his bag. Bobbi Maria is 14 now, and interested in becoming a better golfer. Isabella is 6.
Stricker tees off last today, with Brandt Snedecker. Rickie Fowler hits the first drive of the 2013 season at 10:35 a.m. Hawaii time (3:35 p.m. ET).
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here.
2013 PREVIEW: That disheartening Ryder Cup performance notwithstanding, the 2012 season was another good one for Steve Stricker, who picked up his 12th PGA TOUR win and posted seven total top-10s. He'll be looking to win at least once for fifth straight year in 2013, and he has an enviable record owning sole possession of the 54-hole lead -- Stricker is 7 for 7 in that position.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: The bookends to Stricker's 2012 season were decidedly different -- the elation of a win in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and his obvious distress as Martin Kaymer holed the putt that clinched the Ryder Cup for Europe during their Singles match. More than two months later at the World Challenge, Stricker, who went 0-4 at the Ryder Cup, said that loss "still lingers" but another New Year's in Hawaii could alter his outlook. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Steve is one of the great wedge players in the world, now he has to regain his putting form after being frustrated with his putting in the second half of the season. I think he may understand his strengths and weaknesses better than any player on TOUR and has the discipline to play to his strengths. Steve is excellent at course management. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: While pocketing north of $3.4 million is stout, the 12-time PGATOUR winner suffered his third consecutive hit at the bank. And since he'll turn 46 in February, he's still not on sale in salary formats, but all other games should continue to ride this hoss. He's missed only one cut in his last 61 starts. We miss his days of a busier schedule, but his reorganization has allowed for greater staying power, and therefore just a marginal decline across the board. Perfectly ranked in this feature. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
||Hyundai Tournament of Champions|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 18
Rounds played: 70
Top-10 finishes: 7
Money List rank: 18th
Driving distance: 138th
Driving accuracy: 61st
Greens in regulation: 19th
Strokes gained-putting: 67th
Scoring average: 16th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Steve Stricker hasn’t played golf since the U.S. lost the Ryder Cup two months ago outside Chicago.
“It still lingers,” Stricker said Tuesday from the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Financial. ”That wasn’t much fun the way it ended.”
None of it, at least inside the ropes, was fun for Stricker, who failed to earn a point in four matches, which included going 0-for-3 alongside Tiger Woods. Stricker said the loss hurt more than anything else in his 24 years on the PGA TOUR, including the years in which he lost his card.
“I feel a lot of responsibility for not winning a point,” Stricker said. “I still think about it a lot, and there are reminders all over the place. Every corner I take (at home), there’s a picture from the Ryder Cup or a present or something.”
Stricker added that he wouldn’t have changed anything about the experience -- other than the outcome.
He was so haunted by the defeat, he had trouble sleeping the first two weeks after the historic collapse.
“I think it still hurts a lot of us just because how it all played out,” said Stricker, who never had more than a 1-up lead in any of his matches and who trailed for much of them.
If there’s a moment that sticks out in particular, it came on the 17th hole on Sunday against Martin Kaymer.
Stricker hit his tee shot through the green on the par-3 and failed to get up and down to save par. Kaymer made his par to take a 1-up lead he would never relinquish.
“I haven’t watched it,” Stricker said of the matches. “I don’t plan on watching it.
“I feel a lot of responsibility there just because I didn’t do anything for the team.”
As for playing on the next team when he’ll be 47 years old, the wounds of this loss are still too fresh for Stricker to think that far ahead.
“Not right now,” he said. “I’ve had a good run with it. It’s been a lot of fun. Yeah, you know what, I don’t know. It still stings. It’s not a fair question at this time.”
Europe (Ian Poulter & Justin Rose) def.
U.S. (Tiger Woods & Steve Stricker), 2
Click here for more: Hole by hole
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. – The European Team of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose defeated America’s Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in Friday morning’s foursomes match in the Ryder Cup.
MATCH FLOW: This was a much closer match than might have been expected given the way the Americans had to scramble. Tiger Woods had a dismal day off the tee and even flubbed a chip shot. The Europeans, meanwhile, hung tough all day as Ian Poulter got his first win against the former world No. 1 in three attempts. Europe took control early with a win at the second hole after Steve Stricker found the water. The Americans squared the match with a par at the third but Justin Rose answered with a 40-footer for birdie at the next and Europe never trailed again. A U.S. bogey at No. 6 gave Europe a 2-up edge but Stricker made a 3-footer for birdie at the next and the match remained 1 up until No. 11 when Poulter holed a bunker shot for birdie. A par at No. 12 then put Europe 3 up. The Americans get one back at the 13th with a par but Poulter made birdie on No. 15 to return to 3 up. The Americans won the 15th with a birdie but halved the next two with pars. The morning session ended in a 2-2 tie for the first time since 1997.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Americans won four holes and shot 3 over as a team. The Europeans won six holes and shot 1 under.
TIPPING POINT: The bunker shot the emotional Poulter holes at the 11th hole fuels the fire for the Europeans.
NOTES & QUOTES: “This for me was a tough game; it was tough go for both of us. Tiger has had two of my three defeats and I never wanted to have another one. So it was going to be a tough day. But as Justin said, I've got his back and he's got mine. He asks me to hole a putt, I'm going to go and deliver.” -- Ian Poulter …
When paired together, Poulter and Rose are now 3-1-0 overall and 2-1-0 in Foursomes. Poulter is now 3-1-0 lifetime in Foursomes play. …
Stricker/Woods are now 1-2-0 in Foursomes.