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Stricker plans big season finale

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Gazette Staff
October 7, 2009

With three first-place and two second-place finishes on the PGA Tour, Steve Stricker has had a year to remember.


Now he has a national stage to conclude the season.


Stricker is a member of the U.S. team that will compete in the Presidents Cup that starts Thursday at San Francisco.


The U.S. team members were selected based on official earnings from the start of the 2008 season through the 2009 PGA Championship, plus two captain’s picks.


This is his third appearance as a member of a United States Presidents Cup team (5-5-0), and he also played on the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup squad (0-2-1).


Stricker earned his way onto the U.S. team, and can’t wait to play for Fred Couples, the captain of the U.S. team.


“I’ve been very excited,” Stricker said during the PGA Tour Championship week. “We’ve been exchanging text messages back and forth over the last month or so. Yeah, I’m very excited to play for him.”


Stricker says Couples will bring a loose attitude to the competition.


“I think it’ll relax us,” Stricker said. “He’s kind of a free-spirited, free-caring guy and very light to be around. I think it’s going to be a fun week. There’s a lot of things, you know, with Michael Jordan being there, I think it’s going to be some unique experiences and a fun week to be a part of.”


Stricker won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, John Deere Classic and Deutsche Bank Championship and finished second in the Northern Trust Open and The Barclays.


He won a career high $6,332,636 and finished third in the FedEx Cup standings.


This will be his final competition of the year.


“Any time you can play for your country, I think is a very cool experience,” Stricker said. “I’ve been on these teams the last couple years, and it’s something that I want to do every year.


“It’s pretty special when you get a group of guys together, guys that normally you’re trying to beat every week, and now you become teammates and you feel that bond and you grow closer together.


“It should be a pretty special week.”


Stricker spent time Tuesday with Michael Jordan, who is an assistant captain on the the team. Stricker is familiar with the former NBA great, who attends many of the premier tournaments, including last year’s Ryder Cup competition that included the Edgerton native.


“We were walking off the green, and there he was every day giving us knuckles as we walked off,” Stricker said. “The guy is at every one of them, which is pretty cool that he shows his support and love for the game.


“He’s there any ways, and to be able to talk to him and spend some time with him should be pretty cool.”


PRESIDENTS CUP

Facts and figures for the eighth Presidents Cup matches, which start Thursday:


Teams: United States against an International team of players from everywhere but Europe.


Venue: Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco


Length: 7,137 yards


Par: 36-35—71


Points needed to win: 17½


Captains: Fred Couples (U.S.) and Greg Norman (International)


Defending champion: United States


Series: United States leads, 5-1-1


Last time: United States 19½, International 14½


Format: Six alternate-shot matches Thursday. Six better-ball matches Friday. Five alternate-shot matches Saturday morning and five better-ball matches Saturday afternoon. Twelve singles matches on Sunday. One point is awarded for each win, a half-point when the match ends in a draw. Singles matches that end in a tie go extra holes until one team has 17½ points.


International team: Robert Allenby, Angel Cabrera, Tim Clark, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Ryo Ishikawa, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Mike Weir, Y.E. Yang.


U.S. team: Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Sean O’Hair, Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods.


Key Statistic: The Americans have never lost at home.


Television: Thursday, 2-7 p.m., The Golf Channel; Friday, 1-7 p.m., The Golf Channel; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., NBC Sports; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., NBC Sports.



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