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Steve Stricker shoots 63 to lead leading Senior Players Championship to first round

AKRON, Ohio – Steve Stricker decided at the last minute to play the Senior Players Championship instead of the PGA Tour, and he made it bear fruit at Firestone on Thursday.

Stricker fired a bunker shot on the par-3 12th for a birdie, ran down three straight birdies at the end of his nine holes and kept boogies off his card for a 7-under-63. Ken Duke and Paul Broadhurst.

It was just the start he needed after his last two events at the PGA Tour. The Ryder Cup captain lost a great chance to win the Senior PGA Championship at Southern Hills with a 77 in the final round, and he started so poorly in his U.S. Family Insurance Championship that a lock 65 just fine was for a draw. for the seventh.

At the PGA Tour or against guys his own age, he, which was the hallmark of his career, held him back and Stricker, 54, found himself at home in Wisconsin.

“I have not sat as I used to, and that is why I have been grinding a lot at home, and I have changed everywhere in the grip and putters,” he said. “I got a new grip on the putter this week, but we’ll see. I’m working on it. It was not great yet, but today it was good.”

Duke caught up behind the 18th green to finish his round of 67.

The group at 69 included the defending champion Jerry Kelly, who achieved his second consecutive victory in Wisconsin.

The putter grip Stricker used Thursday was the same as when he won the Chubb Classic in Florida earlier this year. And then he goes to something else, typical of most players, although in this case he said he still could not play well this week.

“I gave it another chance,” he said.

Stricker used the same putter for years during his best run on the PGA Tour. Now he tampers, he even experiments with the arm-lock method used by people like Bryson DeChambeau and Matt Kuchar.

He is not ready for that yet.

“I’m a left-dominant side-putter, left-arm putter, so even the arm lock feels good to me, but it’s a different level,” he said. “So I went the other way and applied this grip and it feels pretty good.”

Starting at nine behind in windy conditions, striking Stricker 6-iron to 4 feet on the 11th hole, following with his bunker-hold on the 12th and then hitting a lob wedge to 4 feet on the par-5 16th, hollow a 20-foot birdie on the 17th and beat it from 10 feet behind the hole at no. 18 in.

Only seven players have achieved their track record on the South Course, which previously hosted a golf championship.

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