Steve Stricker claims 4-stroke lead among senior players

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OHIO: Steve stricker (Photo) turned into a bogey, 7-under-63 to jump to a four-stroke lead after the first round of the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship Thursday in Akron, Ohio.

Stricker’s 63 was the lowest first round in tournament history. It also allowed him to secure the biggest lead in the tournament after the end of the first round.

The U.S. captain of this year’s Ryder Cup hit 14 greens in regulation and clocked seven birdies to climb to the top, as his rivals struggled with a tough course in the third major tournament of the season. Only seven of the 81 players on the field shot below par in the first round.

Stricker started on the last nine holes at Firestone Country Club and birdied five of his first nine holes. He escaped from a bunker at No.12 and put on three birdies in a row at No.16, 17 and 18.

His good fortune continued as he stuck his approach shot on the third par 4 hole a few yards away, where he birdied before finishing with a birdie at No.8.

Stricker, who switched putters on the eve of the PGA Senior Championship last month, said he always tinkered with a skill that has always been the best part of his game throughout his career.

“I didn’t ride like I’m used to, so I worked on it a lot at home, changing grips and putters all over the place,” Stricker said. “I got a new take on the putter this week, but we’ll see. I’m working on it. It wasn’t great, but today was good.

Ken Duke and England’s Paul Broadhurst were tied for second after the first round, each with a 67 under 3. Defending champion Jerry Kelly, Marco Dawson, Bob Estes and Gene Sauers shot a under-1 69 to place fourth.

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez was part of a tie for eighth place at par 70. Germany’s Bernhard Langer, who holds the tour record with 11 major titles, is 1 more.

Stricker, 54, is chasing his second Champions Tour win of the season and his third major career Champions title, after winning both the Regions Tradition and the US Senior Open in 2019.

While standard Champions Tour events last for three rounds, senior players and other major tournaments last for four rounds. – Reuters


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