Steve Stricker's 2013 Season Should Not Be Overlooked

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Steve Stricker waves to the gallery on the eighth hole during the final round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club on September 22, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the PGA Tour announced the five nominees for the 2013 PGA Tour Player of the Year award. They include:

  • Tiger Woods (five wins)
  • Match Kuchar (two wins)
  • Phil Mickelson (two wins including the Open Championship)
  • Adam Scott (two wins including the Masters)
  • Henrik Stenson (two wins and the FedEx Cup title)

While Steve Stricker did not win a PGA Tour event in 2013 and was rightfully excluded from the Player of the Year Award nominees, his accomplishments this season should not be overlooked.

Stricker, 46, made the decision to semi-retire and play a limited schedule of just 13 events this season. He didn’t attend the Open Championship or the first FedEx Cup Playoff event at Liberty National and skipped a handful of other events which he had normally attended in previous years.

But despite taking up to six weeks off between events in some cases, Stricker somehow managed to have one of the best seasons of anyone on the PGA Tour and one of the top seasons of his career.

In the 13 events Stricker attended, he made all 13 cuts, had 11 top-25 finishes and eight top-10 finishes (which included four second-place finishes).

Stricker earned $4.44 million for an average of $341,579 per event, which landed him seventh on the PGA Tour’s year-end Money List.

Stricker also won the Byron Nelson Award, which is presented by the PGA Tour to the player with the lowest adjusted scoring average for the season. And the only reason why Stricker was not the recipient of the more prestigious Vardon Trophy for scoring average was because the PGA of America requires players to have completed at least 60 rounds on the PGA Tour in order to be eligible (Stricker played only 51 rounds on the PGA Tour in 2013).

Stricker would spend weeks at home hanging out with his family, hunting or working on his charity foundation, then he’d grab his clubs, meet up with the Tour, finish second, collect $700K and hightail it back home for another few weeks.

This is completely unheard of in professional golf.

A part-time, semi-retired golfer leading the tour in scoring average, finishing seventh on the money list, finishing third in the FedEx Cup standings and making the cut in all 13 events he attended?

Heck, even the great Tiger Woods spent about two years between 2010 and 2011 talking about how he needed more tournament reps to get his game up to snuff.

Tournament reps?

Who needs that?

Stricker could hop down from his deer-hunting perch and card a 68 at a PGA Tour event the very next day. He could spend two weeks trout fishing, hop on a plane, and 12 hours later putt the lights out as if had been spending every waking hour of the past five years taking lessons from Dave Stockton.

Stricker finished second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, then showed up at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship about six weeks later and managed to finish fifth.

He finished T-37 at the Players Championship, went back to Wisconsin for a month and then showed up at Merion and finished T-8 at the U.S. Open, where had a legitimate chance to win heading into the final round.

Stricker tied for 12th at the PGA Championship, then took a month off, rolled into Boston and finished second at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

This is just shocking stuff in this modern-day world of professional golf.

Stricker was like the PGA Tour’s money-grabbing ghost this season. No one would see him for six weeks; he’d show up out of nowhere, grab $700K for a second-place finish and then disappear for another six weeks.

Woods won five times during the 2013 season. Stenson won the FedEx Cup title. Mickelson, Scott, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner all won major championships this season.

However, what Stricker managed to accomplish in just 13 events while being “semi-retired” might just trump them all.

Stricker just may have broken the mold in terms of how touring professionals fashion their schedules as they approach their mid-to-late-40s.

Obviously, not every touring professional can hop down from a deer-hunting perch, grab their clubs and go out and nearly win a PGA Tour event. However, Stricker has shown that with the right balance and mindset, it’s certainly possible.


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