Stricker avoids trouble in first round
After a long, drawn-out day, Steve Stricker finally gave his home-state fans something to cheer about just as darkness suspended play just before 8 p.m.
Stricker birdied the 13th hole after making 12 consecutive pars across Whistling Straits in the first round of the PGA Championship here Thursday. That left him tied for 24th at 1 under with five holes still to be finished when the first round resumes at 7 a.m. today.
"The greens got a little chewed up this afternoon because they are so soft," said Stricker, whose afternoon tee time was delayed 3 hours, 10 minutes after a long morning fog delay.
"We didn't make a lot of putts in our group. I hit some good putts, misread a few, made a couple of good par saves that kept the round going. And I made a good one at the end. I didn't make a bogey so overall pretty good."
Playing in his first major championship in his native Wisconsin, Stricker was never able to forget where he was. Just after fellow local favorite Jerry Kelly finished up to a loud applause on the 18th green, Stricker made his way to the first tee and got a standing ovation from the gallery in the grandstand and folks packed several deep along the ropes.
"It was pretty cool," Stricker said. "It was a nice welcome I got there on the first tee. That got me a little bit.
"It was pretty cool to come up there and get that sort of reception to start the play. You want to get off to a good start, too. You don't want to duck hook one or push slice one and get into trouble right away."
The pride of Edgerton didn't get into much trouble. He steadily played along in front of galleries that were four times the size of the crowds following co-leader Ernie Els, two groups in front, or Phil Mickelson, two groups behind. It was a little like being Tiger Woods for the day.
"I don't get it very often, and it was nice to get it here, and it's pretty special," he said.
Stricker will have 23 holes to try to give his fans a thrill today as he starts just three shots behind the five-man logjam at 4 under. His biggest hope is that the fog doesn't return in the morning to leave the 78 players still left to complete the first round waiting after a short overnight turnaround.
"We've got a long day tomorrow," Stricker said of today's potential marathon. "Five holes and then another 18, and probably just keep on going.
"So it's going to be a long day, but if you can get on a roll and keep the momentum going it's beneficial sometimes, too. I'd rather keep going than sit around like I did today. Hopefully, the fog doesn't get us like it did this morning."