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updated: 9/12/2013 2:43 PM

Stricker to hunt for glory in PGA 'Super Bowl'

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  • Russ Henley talks to Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozer at the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

      Russ Henley talks to Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozer at the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

  • Jason Dufner at the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

      Jason Dufner at the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.
    Barry Rozner

  • Angel Cabrera at the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

      Angel Cabrera at the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.
    Barry Rozner

  • Phil LaBeau of Naperville was part of Tiger Woods' team in the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest on Wednesday.

       Phil LaBeau of Naperville was part of Tiger Woods' team in the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest on Wednesday.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

With a chance to go for the $10 million top prize next week in Atlanta, Steve Stricker decided to put a long-planned hunting trip with friends on hold.

And believe it or not, it wasn't as cut and dried a decision as one might think.

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"Even though I'd rather go hunting, I think it's pretty important, being in the position I'm in -- top 10 going into this week," Stricker said. "I still have the opportunity and the chance to win which I didn't think I'd be in this position starting the year with the limited playing schedule."

A second-place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and now a chance to win the FedEx Cup championship made the decision to play in the Tour Championship a little easier.

"It's our marquee event, it's the Super Bowl of our year," he said. "For me to just kind of say, 'you know what, I'm in the top 10, I'm not coming,' and to walk away from that I think would have been foolish.

"And another underlying factor is I kept thinking about, it's a 30-man field (in Atlanta), and if I don't come there's one guy that's going to be going out in a single every day, and under his breath he was probably going to be cussing me."

Now the only guys who might be cussing out the 46-year-old are his hunting buddies.

"They were actually rooting against me at Boston, if you can believe it," he said. "But it's all in good fun.

"I told them going into the playoffs that something really strange is going to have to happen for me not to go on this hunting trip. And maybe that's why I did finish second. I didn't have a lot of pressure on me."

What a day:

Phil LeBeau of Naperville had the thrill of a lifetime Wednesday, being paired with Tiger Woods in the Gardner Heidrich Pro Am at Conway Farms.

"Just walking and playing with Tiger is a lot of fun -- it's intimidating, but fun," said LeBeau, a reporter who covers the auto industry for CNBC. "Not so much with him, but the crowd. On the first hole they announce your name and you're standing there ... with Tiger Woods.

"The last thing you want to do is whack it into the woods."

So, what happened?

"Fortunately I didn't, and I parred the first hole."

And for the day?

"Well, four or five real good holes, four or five OK ones, and a whole bunch where I looked like anyone else doffing my way around," he said with a laugh. "But it was a memory of a lifetime."

You've been warned:

If you're planning on watching the marquee threesome of Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott this weekend -- or any other BMW Championship pairing for that matter -- there figures to be some awfully tight spots for the galleries to navigate on the front nine at Conway Farms.

Even Woods, who had a healthy gallery following him during Wednesday's pro-am, noticed a few areas that might be trouble for the throng that figures to be following his group.

"It's going to be interesting to see how they're going to get the gallery around here," Woods said, "especially on the front nine -- and the bottlenecks on No. 5 and six."

Where's Phil?

Phil Mickelson did not compete in Wednesday's pro-am for a personal reason and there were rumors that he might miss the BMW Championship altogether.

But published reports late Wednesday indicated that he will indeed be part of the field this week.

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