Cheered on by the hometown galleries, native son Steve Stricker set the early mark at 8-under par and will head into the weekend with a one-shot lead at the American Family Insurance Championship.
The 51-year old Madison native carded nine birdies against just one bogey en route to a low-round 64, one clear of Brad Bryant, who’s alone in second after a bogey-free 7-under 65.
Coming off the U.S. Open, Sticker said the more relaxed atmosphere on the senior circuit took some getting used to, but at the end of the day golf is golf.
“Yeah, it is a little bit different, but it’s still golf. Get it in the fairway and then get it on the green, give yourself an opportunity, and did I that today,” said Stricker, who posted an impressive even-par 70 in the final round at Shinnecock to finish T20.
“I took one shot at a time. For the most part I never got too far ahead of myself and, you know, just got it in the fairway, got it on the green.
“I made a couple really nice putts early on today and missed a couple short ones, but overall I putted really well. And yeah, I think once that U.S. Open is done and behind you, you kind
of revert back to what you know how to do. Play out here on the Champions Tour is such that you need to go low, you need to be ready to make some birdies and this course is no different.
“So you need to come out here and be a little bit aggressive and roll a few putts in.”
Steve Flesch made a final-hole birdie to join Colin Montgomerie and John Daly at 5-under par.
A second hometown hero, Jerry Kelly, is tied with Bernhard Langer, among others, at 4-under par 68.
TOP 10: ROUND ONE
1. Steve Stricker -8
2. Brad Bryant -7
3. Colin Montgomerie -5
3. John Daly -5
3. Steve Flesch -5
6. Bernhard Langer -4
6. Scott Verplank -4
6. Jeff Sluman -4
6. Glen Day -4
6. Billy Mayfair -4
6. Doug Garwood -4
6. Jerry Smith -4
6. Jerry Kelly -4
6. Mike Small -4
“I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to play. You know, it’s a lot of adrenaline this week, that’s kind of what I’m running on, I think. It’s a big week for us and so I’m just going with it. I’ll hit the wall I’m sure next week.”
– Steve Stricker