Stricker to cut back Tour schedule

Tournament of Champions preview


Posted: 2 January 2013

Stricker strips schedule

Steve Stricker says he will severely limit his PGA Tour schedule after attempting to defend this week’s Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

The 45-year-old American, who has accumulated more than $35million in prize money including 12 PGA Tour victories, intends to tee up in just ten events per year in order to spend more time with his family and work on his recently established foundation that will attempt to raise money for college-bound students.

But with a diminished Tour schedule not dissimilar to ones his close friend Tiger Woods has contested down the years, the Wisconsin native knows the extra time off will give him every chance of bringing maiden major championship success to fruition. 

“That’s the plan,” said the World No.18, often lauded alongside Lee Westwood and Luke Donald as one the best players never to win a major.

“I’m going to play far less. I’m not quitting, I just want to spend more time at home. I still enjoy playing, but I don’t enjoy the travel.

“I will sure be rested and ready to play when I do play. I am excited about that.”

Stricker, who stormed to a three-shot victory over Scot Martin Laird at the Plantation Course 12 months ago, may not play competitive golf again until the WGC-Matchplay Championship in the middle of February.

From there, his schedule will likely see him align at Doral in March for the WGC-Cadillac Championship before teeing up in the Houston Open two weeks later in preparation for the Masters on April 11.

Stricker has checked with the PGA Tour and he will not have an issue with his status. In fact, he could use his one-time top-25 and top-50 career money list exemptions to keep his card.

Although only 30 of the 37 qualifiers for this week's edition are scheduled to play, there is strength in depth with the likes of Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and European Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter in the field. The tournament also welcomes nine first-timers, including new Nike staff player Kyle Stanley.

This week marks the 15th renewal of the winners-only event, serving as the lid-lifter for the 2012 season. However, for a consecutive year, it begins on a Friday and joins the Deutsche Bank Championship as the only other tournament with a scheduled Monday finish.

Perched along the seaside slopes of the West Maui mountains, the par-73 Plantation Course is known for both its breathtaking views and susceptibility to wind. More often than not, however, the trade winds stay gentle enough for the winner to reach 20 under and lower. 

Hardly surprising when you consider the greens average a PGA Tour-high of 8,000 square feet and have ranked the easiest to hit in each of the past four years, while severe elevation changes will likely see several 400-yard drives on show from the likes of American big-hitting duo Watson and Johnson.

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Where?
Plantation Course, Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii

When?
Friday January 4 to Monday January 7

The Course
Par-73; 7,411 yards

Purse
$5,700,000 (winner: $1,120,000)

Defending champion
Steve Stricker (-23)

Tournament Records
Most wins: 5 Jack Nicklaus (1963, 1964, 1971, 1973, 1977)
Lowest score to par: -31 Ernie Els 261 (2003)

Did you know?
Ernie Els’ 31-under total ranks the lowest 72-hole strokeplay score in PGA Tour history.

Betting
It's difficult to determine who will shake the New Years hangover the quickest given this is the first event of the new season but we like the chances of US Open champion Webb Simpson at 14/1, especially since he tied for third here in his debut last season. Other tempters in the limited field include Hunter Mahan at 20s and Tommy Gainey at 50s. Visit 888sport.com for more prices.

Live Coverage
Friday: Sky Sports 3 from 10.30pm
Saturday: Sky Sports 3 from 10.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports 3 from 10.30pm
Monday: Sky Sports 2 from 9pm

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