BETHESDA, Md. — Steve Stricker hasn’t booked his flight to the British Open and probably won’t.
He’s at least contemplating a return to golf’s oldest championship.
“Ask me tomorrow, I could be going,” Stricker replied during the U.S. Open. “Ask me another day, I could be going home. I’m leaning toward not going. I’m thinking about throwing in Greenbrier and then the John Deere. It’s a long trip and I’m not too fired up about it. But then I look at it and it’s a major. And I should be going there.”
Stricker operates under a different set of rules these days. It’s unfair to label him as an American who doesn’t want to travel. He reached a stage in his career where he doesn’t always travel inside his own country.
Feeling as though he owed it to his family to be at home more often, he drastically reduced his schedule last year and became a part-time player. He plays the John Deere Classic the week before the Open because it’s the closest he has to a hometown event — and because he won it three years in a row.
Even so, there’s part of him that sees a major championship going on and feels as if he belongs.
“When I watched on TV it was like, ‘I should be there.’ Then I look at it like I’m not a full-time guy on tour and I shouldn’t worry about,” Stricker said. “I play the things I want to play. My kids and wife might come to Greenbrier. They wouldn’t come with me to the British.”
With a tie for 21st in the U.S. Open, Stricker has moved up to No. 124 in the FedEx Cup. He has never missed the Tour Championship since the FedEx Cup began, a streak that is almost certain to end. With only limited starts remaining — at least three, maybe four — he’s not yet a lock to qualify for The Barclays.
And if he does make it into the playoffs, odds are against him staying very long.
“It’s not a priority of mine,” Stricker said. “If I’m exempt for The Barclays, I’ll probably play. But I do have an elk hunting trip I’ve scheduled.”
He was supposed to go last year but when he was runner-up at the Deutsche Bank and tied for fourth in the BMW Championship, it was worth playing the Tour Championship for a shot at the $10 million bonus.
That won’t be the case this time.
“Last year I missed out on it,” he added of the hunting trip. “This year, I’m going to be a part of that.”
EARLY START: The U.S. Women’s Open has been held before the men’s U.S. Open only three times, all of them in the South — 1996 and 2001 at Pine Needles, 1999 at Old Waverly in Mississippi.
Starting in 2018, the USGA will try to give the women a permanent spot on the schedule ahead of the men.
USGA Vice President Dan Burton said last week the 2018 Women’s Open at Shoal Creek will precede the U.S. Open, with practice rounds starting on Memorial Day.
“Making this permanent change allows us to elevate the visibility of the Women’s Open and provide optimum agronomic and playing conditions on a much broader variety of golf courses around the country,” Burton said. “We believe this will make our best championship in women’s golf even better.”