By Tony Jimenez
LONDON (Reuters) - World number 18 Steve Stricker may one day live to regret his decision if he chooses to miss this month's British Open for the second year in a row, according to former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange.
The ultra-consistent Stricker has achieved a high ranking in spite of being a part-time player in recent years.
The 47-year-old American told reporters at this week's Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia he was undecided whether to make the trip across the Atlantic for the third major of the season at Hoylake, which starts on July 17.
Strange, the 1988 and 1989 U.S. Open champion, also snubbed the British Open at times in his career and he now wishes he hadn't.
"Steve is that type of person," the 59-year-old American told Reuters in a telephone interview from Gleneagles, the Scottish venue of September's Ryder Cup match between holders Europe and the U.S.
"He loves the game but is he really in love with the game? There's a difference.
"I don't care how much money you have, how great a family you have, you're a golfer at heart. I'm almost 60 now and I don't play much any more and I tell you something, I miss it."
Strange said he would definitely do things differently if he had his time again.
"I wish I was 35, 40, 45 again," he sighed. "I don't think you want to get to 60 and say to yourself, 'Boy, I wish I would have played more'.
"After all, you're a golfer, what else are you going to do?
I didn't go to the British Open a couple of times and I should have.
"It is my greatest regret and I've always admitted it. I know I should have come over but I didn't."
Stricker has made the cut in all seven of his tournament appearances this season, achieving one top-10 finish and four more in the top-25.
Strange, who now works as an ESPN golf analyst, explained why some Americans choose not to travel to the sport's oldest major championship.
"Official money in the States means a great deal to our careers, to our status on our own tour," said the 2002 Ryder Cup skipper.
"We try to make Ryder Cup teams, we try to do this, that and the other, and we need to play in the States to do that.
"But I hope Steve Stricker, and whoever else doesn't come over, doesn't have that regret because it will live with them," added Strange who claimed 17 PGA Tour victories in his career and played in the Ryder Cup five times from 1983-95.
"I was playing my best golf one year and I didn't come over and I should have. The only thing I hope is that one day when he is in his rocking chair he doesn't say, 'I wish I would've done this or that because that's not a good feeling'."
(Editing by Stephen Wood)