- Associated Press - Friday, August 30, 2013

NORTON, MASS. (AP) - Steve Stricker sent a text message Friday morning to captain Fred Couples that he wants to make his Presidents Cup team without being a pick.

Then, he shot a 66 in the Deutsche Bank Championship to show he was serious.

Stricker is No. 11 in the U.S. standings, which is based on PGA Tour earnings, and this is the final week for the top 10 players to qualify for the Presidents Cup. He likely would need to finish in the top 10 to have any chance of passing Zach Johnson for the final spot.

That also depends on what Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk, who are behind Stricker on the list.

It’s a situation Stricker wasn’t expecting when he announced his semi-retirement at the start of the year. Wanting to spend more time at home in Wisconsin with his wife and two children, the 46-year-old Stricker planned to play no more than a dozen tournaments.

He has had five top 10s, including a pair of runner-up finishes, and now has a reasonable chance to qualify. Any other year, he might be a logical choice as one of Couples‘ two captain’s picks. But this is where Stricker is uneasy.

He skipped The Barclays last week to take his daughter, Bobbi Maria, to the U.S. Open tennis championship in New York. He already has made plans to go elk hunting with his friends during the week of the Tour Championship.

As for the BMW Championship in two weeks? That depends on his Presidents Cup status.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said. “I’d love to part of the team. I told Freddie I want to make this team on my own merit. I’m not going to play the Tour Championship for sure. I don’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable that I’m not playing a lot if I make the team or I’m a pick. I don’t know. I’m not really quite sure of my feelings. I feel like I can help. I feel like I can be part of the team.

“But a lack of play … I don’t know. I’m struggling with that,” he said. “I don’t want to put any pressure on Freddie or anyone else.”

Stricker, considered one of the best putters in golf, has been part of every U.S. team since 2007. Two years ago, he had a neck injury that affected the strength in his left arm. He didn’t play for two months leading to the matches at Royal Melbourne, and went 2-2 in another American victory.

“No one knew what to expect, and I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I had question marks on my side. I don’t want to put anyone in that position, nor do I want to be in that position. I’m struggling with it.”

Stricker said if he makes the team, he would play the BMW Championship at Conway Farms just north of Chicago.

He also is recovering from a torn hamstring in his right leg from a water skiing accident in July, though he said it’s getting stronger and only occasionally affects his swing.

And how did Couples respond to the text message.

“He said, `Don’t worry about it, go play, you’re fine, you’re consistent, you’re great’ … you know how he goes,” Stricker said.

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