Stricker, at 46, looking for Open history

Steve Stricker observes his tee shot from the second hole. His 69 tied him for third with a 140 total.
Steve Stricker observes his tee shot from the second hole. His 69 tied him for third with a 140 total. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff)
Posted: June 15, 2013

Because of his youthful looks and late career revival, it may be difficult to believe that Steve Sticker is already 46 years old.

Through the first two days of the U.S. Open, Stricker looked as spry as the handful of 20-somethings that dotted the leader board. He followed up Thursday's opening round 71 with a 1-under 69 - one of only three in red numbers for the second round - and stood at even par for the tournament and in a third-place tie with four other golfers.

"I played solid today," Stricker said. "I had a lot of opportunities. I missed a couple I thought I could have made."

There's still plenty of golf to play, but if Stricker was to claim his first major championship, he would become the oldest man to win the Open, topping Hale Irwin, who won the 1990 tournament at 45.

Stricker's showing thus far comes as little surprise, though. He's been one of the more consistent players on the PGA Tour since he resurrected his fledgling career in 2006 and has been in contention at the Open on multiple occasions. He has three top 10 finishes and has always been viewed as a player with the necessary patience to win an Open.

Stricker is straight and has one of the best short games around. He isn't particular long at this stage of his career, but Merion, for the most part, doesn't penalize the shorter hitters.

"There's just a lot of good holes here," Stricker said. "Even the short ones are difficult. You can't take a break on any hole out here, otherwise it can jump up and get you. It's demanding right from the get-go."

He finished with three birdies and only two bogeys and three-putted only one green - the 15th.

"That one hurt a little bit," Stricker said.

But like playing partner Phil Mickelson, Stricker finished strong. He had pars at the final three holes, including an up and down on 18, and hit the ball solidly all day, hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

Stricker's best finishes in the Open - fifth place in 1998 and again in 1999 - may have come when he was much younger. But he agreed that it was nice to be back in contention, and like a veteran, it was nice to finish his second round before play was suspended.

"Yeah it is, it's nice," Stricker said. "What's even nicer is we finished today. We don't have to get back up and get out here early and sit around and wait for your tee time."

Contact Jeff McLane at Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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