Steve Stricker shot a 6-under-par 64 Friday to set the 36-hole tournament scoring record while taking a two-stroke lead at the U.S. Senior Open Championship in Notre Dame, Ind.
FILE PHOTO: Mar 21, 2019; Palm Harbor, FL, USA; Steve Stricker putts on the ninth green during the first round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament at Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead Course. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Stricker shot a bogey-free round at the Warren Golf Course on Friday after he tied the tournament record with a 62 on Thursday to share the first-round lead with defending champion David Toms.
With a total of 14-under 126, Strick broke Senior Open records for total strokes and score in relation to par through two rounds. The previous marks were 11-under 129, set by Kirk Triplett and Kenny Perry in 2017.
Stricker birdied his final two holes of the day to lead Jerry Kelly (64-64) by two strokes, with Toms sitting third at 11 under after a second-round 67 that featured three bogeys.
“I’ve been driving the ball well, getting it in the fairways,” Stricker said. “My iron play has been pretty strong this week, and I’m holing a few putts. To go bogey-free around here is a good day.”
South Africa’s Retief Goosen shot a 5-under 65 to move to fourth place at 9 under. A trio of players — Chris DiMarco, Bob Estes and Triplett — are tied for fifth at 8 under. Estes shot a 65 on Friday, while DiMarco finished with his second consecutive 66 and Triplett was at 68.
Stricker is coming off a three-way playoff loss last week at the American Family Insurance Championship in his hometown of Madison, Wis., in an event that he hosts. Kelly, also a Madison native, won that event over Goosen and his good friend Stricker, whom he has competed against each other since their junior amateur days.
“I knew this course would set up well for him,” Stricker said of Kelly. “It’s a course where if you drive it well — and the fairways are pretty generous here, so getting it in the fairway is not extremely difficult — but if you do get it in the fairway, it sets up a lot of good second shots, and he’s a good iron player.”
Kelly, like Stricker, was bogey free on Friday and birdied his final two holes.
“Definitely a continuation of last week,” he said. “Got a great feel. It’s just been the last five weeks or so that I’ve really had a great feel of my swing and putting. My short game has been good, because I wasn’t hitting it very good in the year. So that’s tuned up.”
Germany’s Bernhard Langer is among four players who are at 6 under, tied for eighth.
Tom Watson, 69, managed five birdies in beating his age with a round of 68 that left him at 3 under for the tournament and tied for 16th.
Perry, a two-time U.S. Senior Open champion withdrew after an opening-round 67 because of an elbow injury.
The 52-year-old Stricker, who is playing in his first Senior Open, said scoring could get more difficult over the final two rounds on a course that has been softened by rain.
“I’m sure it’ll get tougher,” Stricker said. “They can set some tougher pins.”
Sixty players made the cut, which was at 1-over 141, matching the lowest 36-hole cut in tournament history (2017).
—Field Level Media