Stricker Remains in Hunt After Second Round 68

When he put up six birdies on his first 10 holes Friday, Steve Stricker thought his second round at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans was going to be something truly special.

Stricker made four straight birdies on Holes 7-10 but missed a two-foot birdie putt on 11 - yes, even the best in the world miss a two-footer now and then, folks - then bogeyed 12 and 15 to finish with a 4-under par 68.

"I was kind of on cruise control," Stricker said of his first 10 1/2 holes.  "Everything was going really well.  Hit a lot of good shots.  Gave myself a lot of opportunities. Hit them in there really close."

Unfortunately, the fickle game known as golf reared its ugly head and proved it can confound even the best of the best.

"I hit a poor tee ball at 12 and then really didn't get a very good break at 15," Stricker continued.  "Hit in the the [fairway] bunker.  I didn't see that bunker."

Stricker's second consecutive exceptional round left him in a three-way tie for fifth at 10-under par, two strokes off Jason Dufner's leading 12-under total and one stroke behind three players at 11-under, Russell Knox, Ken Duke and John Rollins.  

But it could've been so much better.

"Felt like I let a really good one slip away today," said the three-time John Deere Classic defending champion, who shot an 11-under 60 at the 2010 JDC.  "I should've been right maybe a couple shots better, but that's golf, too."

Stricker is tied at 10-under with Australian left-hander Greg Chalmers and former U.S. Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa.  Stricker says he's in good shape going into the weekend.

"I've been aggressive," said the Wisconsin native who played golf and graduated from Illinois.  "I've been hitting good shots and giving myself a lot of opportunites...If I can keep doing it this weekend, I'll be in good shape."

Three players are tied at 8-under - Camilo Villegas of Colombia, Canada's Graham DeLaet, and American Cameron Tringale.

Meanwhile, reigning Masters champion and defending Zurich Classic champion Bubba Waston shot his second consecutive 1-under 71 and was among 17 players who made the cut on the the number - 2-under par 142 - and survived to play the weekend.  

Among  others at 2-under were three former U.S. Open champions - Geoff Ogilvy of Australia (2006), Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland (2010), and Lucas Glover (2009) of Greenville, SC - and one former John Deere Classic champion - John Senden (2006).  Last year's JDC runner-up Brendon de Jonge was in the group along with Peter Hanson of Sweden, who finished T-3 at the Masters a couple of weeks ago, and Kevin Streelman, who hails from the western suburbs of Chicago.


JULY 10 - 16