Steve Stricker leads after 2 rounds of Regions Tradition
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
HOOVER – After weather caused some delays during the first round of the 2019 Regions Tradition, players were in for long day on Friday, May 10, as they looked to finish the first round and complete the second round of the PGA Tour Champions first major of the season.
One guy who didn’t seem to mind was Steve Stricker, who came out to finish five holes from his first round early in the morning, and ended the day two clear of the field as the solo leader.
After finishing in a tie for second three strokes off of Miguel Angel Jimenez’s win a year ago, Stricker came in as one of the favorites, and he showed why on Friday.
Starting the day with five holes to finish on his first round, he closed out a 4-under par 68, which at the time had him in a tie for second entering the second round.
But in the second round, Stricker took advantage of soft conditions and went extremely low with an 8-under round of 64, also shooting his second bogey-free round of the tournament to get his week started.
“We’ve had soft conditions so you can get a little more aggressive,” Stricker said after his round. “The ball isn’t rolling out of the fairways, it’s plugging where you’re hitting it, so I was able to get the ball in the fairway, get it cleaned up. You know, we played ball in hand in the second round, and I gave myself a lot of opportunities and was able to make some.”
Starting his round on the back nine, Stricker came out and birdied five of the first seven holes to quickly move to 9-under for the tournament and shoot a 31 on his front nine.
He then went on to make three more birdies in his first six holes of what was his back nine and the courses front nine, before closing the round with three consecutive pars.
With that solid round, Stricker is two strokes clear of good friend David Toms at 10-under.
Toms also had a special day thanks to five birdies in his final eight holes to close out a round of 5-under par 67. Toms started a bit shaky on the front nine with one birdie and one bogey, but then really turned things around with three birdies in a row at one point on the back nine before closing out with two in his final three holes.
“It was big,” Toms said of his ending to the round. “I saw (Steve) in front of me, I was watching. We played slow enough that I saw just about every — at least every putt that he made. We didn’t see too many shots into the greens, so I knew he was playing well. I figured they were out there if he was doing it, so I just tried to stay close. Like I said, I rallied my last nine holes, made five birdies and got within striking distance anyway.”
Now those two, who are friends, will get a chance to play together in the final group of the third round on Saturday.
“We played a lot of golf together,” Tom said. “We came out at the same time, played college the same time. We both had our ups and downs, and we’ve had a lot of highlights, too, so it should be fun.”
Also trailing just behind at 9-under is Billy Andrade, while two-time champion Bernhard Langer and Glen Day are both in a tie for fourth at 8-under par.
Andrade shot rounds of 68 and 67 to get to within three shots of the lead.
Day was actually the solo leader after the first round concluded following an 8-under round of 64, but he came back to earth with an even-par round of 72 in the second round.
Langer’s consistency throughout this event remains every year he returns, and his two rounds of 69 and 67 have him right in the thick of the tournament.
At 7-under, Paul Goydos and Scott Parel are in a tie for sixth, while defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gary Hallberg are in a tie for 10th at 6-under.
Saturday’s round will start at 7 a.m. off two tees with weather expected to be bad for the majority of the day.