Stricker Keeping Eye Out For Tiger

NORTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Steve Stricker will start this week's Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston at the head of the FedExCup points standings and with one eye firmly fixed on Tiger Woods.

American Stricker ended a six-year title drought on Sunday with a two-shot victory at the Barclays Classic, the first event in the PGA Tour's lucrative four-tournament season finale.

Stricker's first success since the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Australia lifted him above Woods in the FedExCup pecking order, the world number one having taken last week off to recharge his batteries.

"I'm in a great position now but there's still a long way to go and we all know who is coming back this week," Stricker told reporters after clinching his fourth PGA Tour title, grinning broadly as he referred to Woods.

"I've just got to keep focused and keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully get myself some more opportunities in the next three (tournaments)."

This week's event at the TPC Boston features a field of 120 which will be cut to 70 for the Sept 6-9 BMW Championship outside Chicago.

The leading 30 players in the standings will then qualify for the Tour Championship in Atlanta where a $10 million bonus in deferred compensation will be earned by the overall champion.

Although Stricker will continually evaluate his position in the points standings, he says his tactics will remain tournament focused as the inaugural FedExCup series approaches its climax.

"Winning the tournament is foremost, and everything that comes after that is icing on the cake," the 40-year-old Wisconsin native added. "You're still going there and you still need to play well in the tournament. It's still the same deal.

"You need to prepare yourself and you need to get ready and you need to play as best as you can, and let the points fall where they may, I guess."

Woods, who won last year's Deutsche Bank Championship by two strokes from 2004 winner Vijay Singh after closing with a spectacular 63, has dropped to fourth place in the FedExCup standings following his absence last week.

As a result, the game's leading player has been grouped for the first two rounds at the TPC Boston with fifth-ranked Phil Mickelson and sixth-ranked Fijian Singh.

Stricker, the new number one seed, will play in the company of South Korea's K.J. Choi, second in the standings, and South African Rory Sabbatini, who lies third.

Former champions Woods and Singh will tee off as heavily fancied contenders in Friday's opening round, as will Australia's Adam Scott, winner of the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles)


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