QBE Shootout: Steve Stricker searches for sweet spot between 2 tours

Srijita Chattopadhyay/Naples Daily News

QBE Shootout: Steve Stricker searches for sweet spot between 2 tours

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QBE Shootout: Steve Stricker searches for sweet spot between 2 tours

NAPLES, Fla. – Steve Stricker is still in between. The part-time Naples resident is going back and forth between the PGA Tour and the PGA Tour Champions. And he came to Naples a couple of weeks ago in between on his golf game.

But he’s back at a place he knows well. This will be his 11th straight appearance in the QBE Shootout at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, and he’s defending a title for the second time after winning with Sean O’Hair last year.

“It’s always great to come here,” Stricker said Thursday. “It’s an event that I look forward to every year, kind of kick-starts my year, the year coming up, and gets me back into the game of golf and practicing.”

Stricker won with Jerry Kelly in 2009, and has made Naples a part-time home over the past couple of years.

Stricker, 51, almost won the Chubb Classic in February on the PGA Tour Champions in Naples, but isn’t sure yet whether he will return to it in 2019. He’s planning on using his top-25 career money list exemption to play on the PGA Tour, and will go back and forth still on the Champions.

“(I’m) going to concentrate I think a little bit more on the regular tour, see how that goes to start the year,” he said. “I’m going to start the year in Hawaii, and play Sony and then Hualalai on the Champions Tour — hopefully play somewhere in that 15-event range on the regular tour and see … I’m not in any major or The Players Championship, so kind of set my sights and goals on trying to get into some of those bigger events if I can.”

Tiger Woods put himself back into contention in some of those bigger events this year, finally recovering after multiple back surgeries to win the Tour Championship and make it on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Woods was in Australia earlier this week, where he’ll be the U.S. captain for the 2019 Presidents Cup team and said he wants to qualify for the team and be a playing captain, something Stricker — the 2017 captain — said he’d endorse.

“There’s only one other captain to do that — Hale Irwin,” Stricker said. “He’s surely capable of doing it, especially the way he played this year and especially the way he played at the end of the year.

“I think it would add an interesting wrinkle to everything. It would put probably a little bit more on the plates of the assistant captains. If he’s going to play and play three or four times, you would want him to be focused on playing. … It would be history again, you know?”

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