Stricker has 8th straight year with­out miss­ing cut in major

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Steve Stricker had to clean out his locker and head home early af­ter miss­ing the cut in the PGA Cham­pi­onship at Hazel­tine. That was in 2009. And it was on his mind Fri­day at Quail Hol­low when he was out­side the cut line and run­ning out of holes. “It was on my mind today to play this week­end,” he said. “I wanted to be around this week­end.”

He followed with two 3-woods that led to easy birdies, and Stricker shot a 1-un­der 70 that will al­low him to make the cut. That means the 50-yearold Stricker has now gone eight con­sec­u­tive years with­out miss­ing a cut in the ma­jors.

His 3-wood off the 14th tee reached the green about 18 feet away. He missed the ea­gle putt. On the par-5 15th hole, Stricker drilled a 3-wood up the hill and onto the green about 20 feet away. He missed that ea­gle putt, too. Stricker had an­other birdie with a 7-iron into the par-3 17th, and then dropped a shot on the 18th from the bunker. He hasn’t played ev­ery major in ev­ery year since that missed cut at Hazel­tine. Stricker went a cou­ple of years skip­ping the Bri­tish Open be­cause he was try­ing to reduce his sched­ule and that’s gen­er­ally the week of his wed­ding an­niver­sary.

At age 50, and Pres­i­dents Cup cap­tain of the US team, he’s get­ting busy again. His wife, Nicki, is cad­dy­ing for him at Quail Hol­low. Both daugh­ters have been trav­el­ing with him this sum­mer, and Stricker used the Bri­tish Open for a fa­ther-daugh­ter trip with Bobbi Maria, who starts her sopho­more year at Wis­con­sin in a few weeks.

“I’m en­joy­ing it,” he said. “Nicki and the kids have been out with me prac­ti­cally ev­ery week, es­pe­cially this sum­mer and even some dur­ing school. We took our youngest out of school, home schooled her on the road when we were out. So I’ve played a lot more.”

Tiger Woods went nine straight years mak­ing the cut - 38 straight ma­jors dat­ing to the 1996 Masters - though he played all four of them each year (and won 10 of them be­fore miss­ing his first cut). Stricker was quite sat­is­fied mak­ing his 26th cut in a row.

Ryan Fox caught Quail Hol­low be­fore the rain on Fri­day and he turned in a 66 to go from a short week at his first PGA Cham­pi­onship to 1-un­der 141 go­ing into the week­end at Quail Hol­low.

“Pretty bloody happy, to be hon­est,” the 30-year-old Kiwi said. Fox hit only three fair­ways in the open­ing round and shot 75. He hit 10 fair­ways on Fri­day, and that was all the dif­fer­ence. It looks as though it could have been lower if he had made a few more birdie chances from the 10-foot range, and a 5-foot ea­gle putt he missed on No. 7. But he wasn’t about to be greedy.

“Ev­ery hole around here, you’re just happy to take a par, and some of those short putts, you’re al­most not try­ing to make,” he said. “They are so quick. You can knock it 4 or 5 feet by and three­p­utt re­ally quickly.”

Kevin Kis­ner was born in Aiken, South Carolina, and now lives off the 17th fair­way at Pal­metto Golf Club. But he has rea­son to feel like a home­town fa­vorite at Quail Hol­low. His par­ents grew up in Charlotte, so this was al­most a sec­ond home when Kis­ner was grow­ing up.

“I’ve spent ev­ery Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas in Charlotte from child­hood to mar­riage,” he said. “Been here a ton. Got a lot of ties to Quail Hol­low - brother-in-law’s fa­ther is a found­ing mem­ber here. We’ve spent a lot of time in Charlotte. My 93-year-old grand­mother still lives here by her­self.”

The de­ci­sion to live in Aiken was easy. “When I was play­ing the mini-tours and I was broke, that’s the only place I could af­ford to buy a house and I went back there,” he said. “I just love it. I have a core group of friends that we hang out with that don’t pester me about golf and we hang out and have a cou­ple beers on the back porch. That’s what I love about it.”

The clos­ing stretch at Quail Hol­low pun­ished D.A. Points on Fri­day. He was 5 un­der par, at the time just one shot off the lead, when he came to the 16th hole. Two holes and two dou­ble bo­geys later, Points tum­bled down the leader­board.

On the 16th, he drove into the left rough and played out to far to the right, leav­ing him a bad an­gle. He hit wedge to 25 feet, but rolled the down­hill putt about 6 feet by and missed that one com­ing back.

And then he headed to the par-3 17th, which played only 177 yards be­cause of the front pin tucked over the bunker. “I was in be­tween clubs,” Points said. “I’m try­ing to chip a 7-iron and stopped on it and pulled it and it went in the wa­ter.”

Even so, he’s try­ing to re­mind him­self this has been a good year. Points won the Puerto Rico Open to get a two-year ex­emp­tion, and he has done well enough the rest of the sea­son to make it back to the PGA Cham­pi­onship for the first time since 2013 at Oak Hill. — AP

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