It’s Stricker vs. the odds
Forget about the talented field and the fickle British Open weather.
Edgerton native Steve Stricker will have another foe to fight as he tries to win his first major title and his second event in a row.
Stricker’s nefarious foe? The history books.
Since 1949, only six players have won a PGA Tour event and then followed it up with a win in one of golf’s four major tournaments. The last player to pull off the feat was Tiger Woods, who won the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational the week before capturing the 2007 PGA Championship.
As far as the British Open, Lee Trevino is the only player to win a PGA event the week preceding the British Open. Trevino won the 1971 Canadian Open and followed it up with a win at Royal Birkdale.
Stricker put himself in position to challenge the history books with an opening-round 4-under-par 66 Thursday at Turnberry.
That score left Stricker in a five-way tie for fifth place, just two shots behind first-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez.
In virtually ideal playing conditions, Stricker and dozens of other players took advantage to post low scores.
“It was more like an American style course today with no wind,” Stricker said. “Usually we have real firm conditions and wind and rain but we had none of that today. The course and greens are great.”
Stricker, ranked No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 6 in the world rankings, hit 12 of 14 fairways, far better than the field average of 8.5. He needed 29 putts to complete his round, almost two better than the field average of 30.96 for the first day.
Stricker’s opening round could have been even better had he avoided trouble at the ninth and 10th holes, a pair of par-4s he bogeyed. The ninth is a particularly brutal 449-yard hole.
Stricker, who made six birdies in his round, closed out his day with birdies on the last two holes to thrust himself squarely into contention. He is scheduled to tee off for his second round at 6:58 this morning.
“I feel good about my game,” Stricker said. “The only uncertainty was the emotional hangover from the victory last week and the jet lag. I kissed my wife and kids good-bye and I was on the plane and I was here. It was almost like last week didn’t happen.”