PHOENIX — For just the third time since it started in 2001, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship has been decided before reaching the final event of the year.
Steve Stricker lapped his over-50 cohorts in 2023, winning six times, including three senior majors. He’s closing in on the $4 million mark in earnings for the season, and even if he were to finish last this at Phoenix Country Club, he’d earn enough to become the first Champions player to reach that plateau in a single season on tour.
Stricker had more than doubled the No. 2 golfer on the money list, Steven Alker, and with such a sizeable lead, Stricker chose to skip the first playoffs event. Then, anyone with a shot to catch him finished far enough down the leaderboard that he was able to clinch the season title without even playing.
He also chose not to play last week’s TimberTech Championship but will compete in the 2023 Charles Schwab Cup Championship, an event he skipped a year ago. On Sunday, regardless of his position on the leaderboard, he will hoist the Schwab Cup trophy for the first time.
Stricker indeed had a season for the ages, with six victories, five second-place finishes and 15 top-10s in 16 outings. His lone non-top 10 came on the heels of a transglobal trip back from Rome, where he was a vice captain at the Ryder Cup.
At his last tournament a month ago, Stricker talked about the snowball effect of winning.
“The more you get in there, the more opportunities you have. I didn’t have this many opportunities on the regular Tour, and then out here it’s been a lot of fun,” he said at the Furyk & Friends tournament in Jacksonville on October 5. “You get in there quite a bit and have that opportunity, you get a little more comfortable with the situation, and then it’s kind of fun to see if you can pull the shots off or the putts off coming down the stretch. That part’s been a gas. That’s what I really enjoy the most is to see how I’ve been handling the pressure come Sunday on some of the last few holes.”
Alker won last year’s Cup for the first time. In 2023, he was…