AKRON, Ohio – Steve Stricker topped the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship leaderboard at 5 under with a hole to play Thursday when the first round was suspended for the day because of lightning and rain.
Coming off a victory two weeks ago in the U.S. Senior Open at Norte Dame, Stricker had a hole-in-one on the 184-yard, par-3 seventh at Firestone Country Club.
Play was suspended at 12:55 p.m., and called for the day at 5:05 p.m. after just over an inch of rain soaked the course. Stricker was in the middle of the 18th fairway, facing a 140-yard shot on the par-4 hole, when play was stopped. He was set to resume play at 7 a.m. Friday.
“Bummed that we didn’t get to finish because that meant we could have slept in a little bit tomorrow, and then now we’ll have to get out here just to hit that shot,” Stricker said. “Hopefully, just one putt. And then we won’t tee off until 1 p.m. Maybe go back and I don’t know what we’ll do – kill time, eat breakfast a few times or something. Yeah, it would have been nice to finish.”
Stricker is seeking his third straight major victory on the PGA Tour Champions, a run that began with the Regions Tradition. He’s playing the 50-and-over event instead of going for a fourth victory at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour.
“I wish they were different weeks so I could play them both, but I decided to come here,” Stricker said. “I’m happy I’m here and I’m not second-guessing my decision at all.”
Paul Goydos was second at 2 under after five holes.
Ken Duke shot a 1-under 69. John Daly (8 holes), Jay Haas (15 holes), Duffy Waldorf (12 holes), Wes Short (10 holes), Miguel Angel Jimenez (8 holes), Lee Janzen (5 holes), Corey Pavin (5 holes) and Bart Bryant (3 holes) also were 1 under.
Bernhard Langer was even par after six holes. He won the tournament three straight times from 2014 through 2016.
Defending champion Vijay Singh was 1 over with two holes left.
Stricker used a 7-iron on the ace.
“We had a 6-iron out to start with and then some breeze came up a little bit and I knew the 6-iron was borderline, a little bit too much,” Stricker said. “Then once that breeze, we felt that, we thought that 7-iron was going to be the right club. Came off good, it was just a little bit left of the hole and then it broke. … That’s always something very unexpected. You don’t expect that or see that very often.”
Firestone is a longtime PGA Tour venue, hosting the World Golf Championships event and previously the World Series of Golf.
“It just is old school,” Stricker said. “It’s right there in front of you. It’s long, it’s tough, there’s not a lot of let-up holes. You have to drive it well, hit good iron shots. And if you do drive it in the trees, you can advance it up the fairway usually pretty far up around the green somewhere and then you’ve got to try to get it up-and-down with your short game.”
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