Stricker cards 65 to take Regions Tradition lead


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to take a 2-stroke lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez and Wes Short Jr. after the opening round of the Regions Tradition, the first of five PGA Tour Champions majors.

Stricker, the 2019 champion, closed his bogey-free round with a birdie on No. 18 at Greystone Golf & Country Club. Jimenez, the 2018 winner, started on the 10th tee and broke out of a 10-player logjam at 4 under with a birdie on No. 8.

Short then joined him at 67 with a closing birdie on 18, his sixth along with one bogey.

Stricker, who was captain of the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits last year, certainly played like the guy who had excelled on recent trips to Birmingham.

Stricker lost on the first hole of a playoff last year to Alex Cejka and had a health scare that sidelined him for six months. He was hospitalized for nearly two weeks and dropped 25 pounds.

The tournament wasn’t played in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Stricker missed a chance at a third straight birdie by inches on No. 14.

Charles Schwab Cup points leader Steven Alker, two-time PGA Tour major winner John Daly and World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els were among the group at 4-under 68.

Daly had six birdies and two bogeys, going bogey-birdie on his final two holes. His highest finish of the year was 27th at Hualalai.

Els had only one bogey.

Alker, who has won two tournaments and taken two others to playoffs, eagled the par-5 13th hole. He was even through the first nine.

Shane Bertsch had eight birdies and four bogeys for his 68, with a particularly up-and-down back nine. Bertsch had three bogeys on those holes and still finished them 1 under.

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