By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- On his way to the interview room Wednesday, Steve Stricker walked past Jordan Spieth. He stopped, turned around and shook the youngster's hand, congratulating him on an excellent rookie season. It was the first time he's met his future Presidents Cup teammate.
Then Stricker asked Spieth if he wanted to play a practice round next week at East Lake. They quickly arranged for nine holes next Tuesday afternoon.
That's interesting news. But the bigger news is that Stricker definitely will play in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Until he confirmed it Wednesday, Stricker had been debating whether to honor a prior committment to go elk hunting with his buddies, a trip Stricker had long ago scheduled after deciding to reduce his playing schedule this year.
He didn't expect to be in the position he's now in -- 10th in FedExCup points going into this week's BMW Championship, his spot secure for the 30-man field at the TOUR Championship in which the FedExCup champ will be crowned.
"I had a good talk with (his wife) Nicki on the way home right after Boston (in which Stricker was runner-up to Henrik Stenson) and thought it was pretty important for me to go and play and not go hunting instead," he said.
"Even though I'd rather go hunting, I think it's pretty important, being in the position I am in, top 10 going into this week. I still have the opportunity and the chance to win, which I didn't think I'd be in this position starting the year with the limited playing schedule."
Stricker acknowledged that a lot of factors came into play in deciding to extend his Playoffs season one last week. His spot in the field would not have been filled, so just 29 players would have been in attendance, leaving one player each day to play as a single.
"Under his breath, he was probably going to be cussing me," Stricker said with a smile. "I didn't think that would be fair to the field or the other players."
The importance of the event -- a chance to win the FedExCup -- was simply too good to pass up.
"It's our marquee event," he said. "It's the Super Bowl of our year. For me to just kind of say, 'You know what, I'm in the top 10. I'm not coming' -- to walk away from that, I think, would have been foolish."
But while the PGA TOUR is glad to have Stricker in the field, his hunting buddies evidently aren't as thrilled with his decision.
"I'm catching a lot of grief," Stricker said. "They were actually rooting against me at Boston, if you can believe it ... but it's all in good fun."