Steve Stricker withdraws from BMW

LEMONT, Ill. -- Steve Stricker, who has never missed a round in the history of the FedEx Cup playoffs, withdrew from the BMW Championship on Friday because of neck pain, according to his management company.

Stricker shot 1-under par 70 after opening the tournament with 76 at Cog Hill. He entered the tournament eighth in the FedEx Cup standings but is assured of a spot in next week's Tour Championship, which is for the top 30 players. The FedEx Cup format began in 2007.

"I've lost some strength in my left arm and I had a hard time hanging onto the club," Stricker said to The Associated Press while driving home to Wisconsin. "It just kept getting worse."

Stricker has won twice this year on the PGA Tour at the Memorial and John Deere Classic. Stricker had a tour-leading 40 consecutive made cuts heading into the BMW but now Charl Schwartzel is first with 18 in a row.

At No. 4 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Stricker is the highest-ranked American player.

"Steve has been battling some neck pain the past few days and the discomfort became more severe today,'' said Jon Heaton of International Management Group. "After consulting with his doctor he has decided to rest at home for a few days in hopes of regaining full strength for the Tour Championship next week.''

He attributed the weakness in his arm to a disk problem in his neck that he first noticed in December while bow hunting.

"I found it when I went to pull back my bow to shoot a doe," he said. "My left arm caved down and I hit my head with the bow. I thought that was unusual. I had never had that problem before. That was a wakeup call that something was wrong."

Stricker said he had an MRI that revealed a disk problem, which explained the loss of strength in his left arm. He has been spending more time on fitness and exercise to alleviate the pain. Even so, Stricker said if he could pull down 40 pounds using his right arm, he could pull down only 20 pounds with his left arm.

"The last month or so, I've noticed that it's gotten a little worse," he said. "I put a lot of time in the last three days, and I don't think that's helped. But I'm going to see this doctor on Monday, and hopefully I'll be ready to go."

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.