CHARLOTTE – Steve Stricker has a lot on his mind these days.
He has two roster picks to make as captain of the U.S. President’s Cup team before the fall event at Liberty National Golf Club, the merits of which never stray far from his thoughts.
It’s something he’s been thinking about even this week while playing in the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, but there were pressing matters late Friday in Round 2.
At 5 over through 13, Stricker’s streak of 25 straight major cuts made — best among current players — was in jeopardy. Making it 26 was priority No. 1, and Stricker did just that with a 1-under 70 in Round 2 to make the cut at 3 over.
“It was on my mind today to play this weekend,” Stricker said. “It’s a tough course for me and everybody else. If you don’t drive it in the fairway and all that, it becomes very difficult. But, yeah, I was thinking about it. I wanted to be around this weekend.”
Phil Mickelson won’t be at Quail Hollow this weekend after missing the cut at 11 over, something Stricker learned when he asked a group of reporters if Mickelson had played his second round yet. The captain’s hat was back on, and there was a conversation the two had last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to be considered.
“He told me he wants to be on this team more than anything,” Stricker said. “I would love to see him on the team. But just like anybody else, I have got to see who is playing well at the time. … I told him I would like to see him play well here on out. To show me something, basically, and that doesn’t sound right coming from a guy like me talking to Phil. ‘Hey, show me something.’ That doesn’t sound right. (But) that’s basically what I said. Show me that you are playing good at the end of the year.”
The 50-year-old Edgerton, Wis. native showed something of his own in Round 2 with a pair of short birdie putts at 14 and 15, then stuck a tee shot to 3 ½ feet at the par-3 17th for another birdie.
Stricker said he’s been frustrated with a few missed opportunities around the greens, but acknowledged Friday’s round was “a little bit better.”
“That’s been frustrating,” Stricker said. “I could have been a few shots better today. (But) I’m happy to be around, too.”
With six top-25 finishes this season and a T-5 at the John Deere Classic last month, Stricker will start gearing up for the FedEx Cup Playoffs after the PGA Championship. And he’ll keep noodling those captain’s picks, trying to weigh intangibles with current play for Mickelson and others on the bubble.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot and watching the points list every week,” Stricker said. “I don’t think it’s the most fun part of the job. I guess telling two guys they are on the team is going to be fun, but telling a half-a-dozen other guys that you are thinking about that they are not going to make it, that will be hard probably.”