Triple bogey on No. 2 takes out Stricker at US Open

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staff, Gazette
Monday, June 17, 2013

— Steve Stricker’s U.S. Open dream was over Sunday before it really started.

Not one, but two shots that wound up out of bounds on the par-5 second hole derailed Stricker’s bid to become the oldest golfer, at age 46, to win the U.S. Open.

The Edgerton native started the final round at Merion Golf Club one shot behind Phil Mickelson and in the penultimate pairing of the day.

After a solid par on his opening hole, the normally unflappable Stricker did the unthinkable. His tee shot at No. 2 sailed right and out of bounds on Ardmore Avenue.

After a penalty shot, his second tee shot found the fairway. Trying to lay up with his fourth, Stricker shanked the shot. That, too, went out of bounds on the right.

Stricker needed two more shots to reach the green, and he made the putt for a triple-bogey eight.

“Yeah, it was a tough day. It started right away at the second and third holes,” Stricker said. “I just put a poor swing on it at No. 2, hit it out of bounds. And then hit a good drive and hit my next one out of bounds, caught it off the hosel and was trying to chase a 4-iron and got ahead of it a little bit.”

Stricker followed that with a bogey at the long par-3 third.

“Just not the start I was looking for, making triple, and a good triple it was, on the second hole of the day,” he said. “And then you’ve got to turn right into No. 3 and it’s a 260-yard shot into the wind, and starting 4-over after three holes really wasn’t what I had in mind today.”

Stricker finished with a 6-over-par 76 and a 6-over mark overall for the tournament. He was five shots behind winner Justin Rose, tying for eighth place.

Sunday’s round was a bitter pill to swallow for Stricker, who entered with perhaps his best chance to end his drought in major championships. He has now played in 59 majors without winning one, and his best finish was runner-up in the 1998 PGA Championship.

In January, Stricker announced that he would cut back his schedule to spend more time with his family. His wife, Nicki, and his two daughters, Bobbi Maria and Isabella Nicole, followed him at Merion.

After the round, he put the week in perspective and vowed to not let his finish bother him.

“I’m way easier on myself. I’m not over this yet, but it won’t take me long to get over this,” he said. “Golf is not the thing in my life as it once was. That was the reason why I scaled back. So I’m excited to go home. I’m excited to do some different things at home and get some time away again and get ready and come back in three weeks.”

Stricker made bogeys at Nos. 3 and 5, but finally settled down and made pars on the final four holes to complete his front nine in 41.

After three more pars to start the second nine, Stricker made a birdie at No. 13 to give him a chance. But bogeys at Nos. 14 and 15 ended any thoughts he had of making a late run.

He said the pressure of being near the lead didn’t bother him.

“No, I think it was actually a lot easier today, even though it didn’t look like it,” he said. “I felt more comfortable than I have in previous times I’ve been in contention in majors. So that’s a good sign.”

Stricker will play next at the John Deere Classic, where he’s won three of the past four years. He said he wouldn’t play in the British Open, which will further delay his quest to win a major.

“I’m running out of years, though, I think,” he said. “It’s not getting any easier as I get older. The feelings that I have out there are that of calmness, I guess, and trusting my ability. Like I said, even though that didn’t show today, I still felt good out there.”

Last updated: 7:52 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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