Steve Stricker satisfied with 72 to open Masters

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By Gary D'Amato
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, April 10, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga.--Steve Stricker went into the Masters with only three tournaments under his belt in 2014 and wasn't happy with the state of his game.

So even though he frittered away a few strokes on the back nine at Augusta National on Thursday, he wasn't too disappointed with an even-par 72.

“I haven't been playing all that well lately,” he said. “I put a new set of irons in my bag last week and I had to switch some shafts around. It led to some inconsistency that I normally haven't seen out of myself.

“But it was better today. I hit some better iron shots than I did last week (when he tied for 24th in the Houston Open). So it's moving in the right direction.”

Stricker, 47, of Madison, was only four strokes off the lead going into the second round. It wasn't a bad start considering he hadn't shot better than 71 in the first round of the Masters since 2001, when he opened with a 66.

“I'll take even,” he said. “It's a good start. Anytime in a major you can shoot even you're not going to be too far off the pace.”

Stricker got to 3-under with a birdie on No. 10 but gave two strokes back with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12.

“I hit a bad drive on 11 in the right pines,” he said. “I was just trying to make a bogey at that point.

“On 12, I thought I hit a nice 8-iron there and it felt like the wind came back in our face. It hits the lip of the bunker and rolls all the way back on the down-slope so again I was in a position where you're just trying to make a bogey.”

He was still 1-under but couldn't take advantage of the par-5s on the back nine. He made pars all the way around until the par-4 18th, where he hit his only poor drive of the day and had to hole a 25-footer to save bogey.

“I just dead-pulled my driver into the trees right straight away,” he said. “I was lucky just to find it, really, and advance it into the fairway. Then I had a utility club into the green and hit it left—really not a good spot there, either.

“My putter saved me. That was definitely a nice way to finish, even though it was a bogey.”

Last updated: 11:19 pm Thursday, April 10, 2014

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