By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LAKE FOREST, Illinois (Reuters) - Steve Stricker thanked his lucky stars he was one of 22 players who did not have to tee off in Sunday's rain-hit final round of the BMW Championship before play was suspended for the day.

Torrential downpours at Conway Farms Golf Club forced play to be halted twice in the PGA Tour's penultimate FedExCup playoff event, after the early starters had to contend with a saturated course in cold and wet conditions.

"I think we got the better end of the deal by not even playing in it," second-placed Stricker, who is scheduled to tee off with tournament leader Jim Furyk at 9:40 a.m. CT (1440 GMT) on Monday, told reporters.

"It looked like it was pretty tough conditions for everybody, with cold weather and rain. I didn't have to go out, get started in it and come back in, all that stuff. So that was good, I guess, in that respect.

"But I wish we could have got it (the full round) in. I wish we could have played for all the fans that are here and the sponsors and everything. Got to go back at it again tomorrow and try to put up a good round."

Of the 70 players who qualified for the elite BMW Championship, being held for the first time on the outskirts of Chicago, only 48 began Sunday's round.

Stricker, alone in second place overnight after rocketing into contention with a 64, was set to tee off with Furyk in the final pairing.

Asked how he dealt with the unpredictability of a start-stop day before play was eventually called off, the 46-year-old American replied: "You just take it like it's Sunday tomorrow, and today was kind of an off-day.

"(Wife) Nicki and the kids were here still, so I kind of hung out with them. It didn't really ever feel like I was going to get out there and play today, the weather just looked bad all the way around.

"But I'll be ready tomorrow. Early start tomorrow, and the weather looks better," said Stricker, who is playing a truncated schedule on the PGA Tour this season to spend more time with his family.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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