OHIO: Steve striker (pixel) transformed into a bogey-free 7-under 63 to jump ahead by four shots after the first round of the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship on Thursday in Akron, Ohio.
Stricker’s 63 was the lowest first round in tournament history. It also allowed him to secure the biggest advantage of the tournament after the completion of the first round.
The captain of this year’s American Ryder Cup hit 14 greens in regulation and made seven birdies on his way to the lead as his competitors struggled with a challenging course to the third major of the season. Only seven of the 81 players on the field shot down in the first round.
Stricker started in the second nine holes at Firestone Country Club and birdies five of his first nine holes. He took refuge from a bunker at no. 12 and put together three birds in a row at no. 16, 17 and 18.
His luck continued as he blocked his approach shot at the third par 4 hole a few meters away, where he made a birdie before concluding with a birdie on the no. 8.
Stricker, who switched his putter on the eve of last month’s Senior PGA Championship, said he is still tinkering with a skill that has always been the best part of his game throughout his career.
“I didn’t put on like I’m used to, so I really worked a lot at home, changing grips and putters everywhere,” said Stricker. “I took a new grip on the putter this week, but we’ll see. I’m working on it. It wasn’t great, but today it was good. “
Ken Duke and England’s Paul Broadhurst were tied for second place after the opening round, each with a 3-under 67s. Reigning champion Jerry Kelly, Marco Dawson, Bob Estes and Gene Sauers shot 1-under 69s to equalize for fourth place.
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez was part of an eighth draw at par 70. German Bernhard Langer, who holds the tour record with 11 major titles, is 1 above.
Stricker, 54, is on the hunt for his second Champions Tour win of the season and his third career Champions title, having won both the Regions Tradition and US Senior Open in 2019.
While standard Champions Tour events last three rounds, senior players and other majors last four rounds. – Reuters