AF2 Stricker leaving 17.jpg

Steve Stricker waves to the gallery as he leaves the 17th green on Saturday. Stricker is tied for second heading into the AmFam Championship's final round on Sunday.

MADISON — In three short years, tournament host Steve Stricker and his team at the American Family Insurance Championship have built a PGA Tour Champions event recognized among many people for many reasons.

First-round leader Jerry Kelly two shots back after second-round 70, but Madison golfer 'champing at the bit' to chase down first win in 17 months
AmFam Championship Report Card: Saturday's highlights, lowlights from University Ridge

When it comes to its Sunday profile, however, the final day of what has become a week-long festival has been recognized for one thing: Drama.

Each of the first three winners of the AmFam Championship has come from at least two shots behind to hoist the "Dream Achieved" trophy. And, as bunched as the leaderboard has become entering the final round this year, there's no telling how far down the leaderboard a champion could emerge come Sunday.

"You know, this course lends itself to some exciting finishes," Stricker was saying Saturday after holing a chip shot for eagle on the par-5 16th hole on his way to a second straight 67 and joining Duffy Waldorf (67) and Billy Andrade (66) in a tie for second place at 10-under-par 134, one shot behind leader Steve Flesch (65) on a leaderboard with 18 golfers within five shots of the lead with 18 holes to go.

First-round leader Jerry Kelly of Madison shot 70 and is among three golfers tied for fifth at 9-under 135. Long-hitting John Daly (69) and 2016 champion Kirk Triplett (70) are among those four shots back. Colin Montgomerie (68) and defending champion Scott McCarron (67) are in a group of seven golfers five shots off the pace at 138.

"It's kind of a shootout course," Stricker said. "You have to play aggressively; there's birdies to be made. There's eagles you can make on some of these par-5s; they're reachable so a lot can happen on these closing holes. That's what makes it exciting and fun to play here."

No one had more fun Saturday, at least late in his round, than Flesch.

The 52-year-old left-hander, whose only win on the senior circuit came at the 108 Mitsubishi Electric Classic, birdied his last three holes and four of his last five to grab the 36-hole lead for the first time in his career on the over-50 circuit. The last time he slept on a Saturday night lead was at the 2007 Turning Stone Resort Championship, where he posted the last of his four PGA Tour victories.

"From years past, I've never particularly made a lot of birdies here, and you have to make putts and you have to keep your foot on the gas," said Flesch, who spent last week as an on-course commentator for FOX Sports' coverage of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Calif. "On this tour, since it's only three rounds, it's not so much a shootout, but you have to just be aggressive. You know, that's never been my MO in my 20 years playing the (PGA) Tour.

"I'm kind of a plodder and conservative and not a big risk-taker. And, out here, I've had to change that."

Indeed, there is no sitting still on the PGA Tour Champions.

First-round leader Jerry Kelly of Madison, one of three golfers tied for fifth at 9-under 135, felt like he was doing just that in his round of 2-under 70. He made just one birdie — on the par-5 second hole — to go with eight pars on the front nine and then, after birdieing both par-5s on the back nine, three-putted for bogey on the par-3 17th hole.

"On the Champions Tour, you make a bogey, you could have seven guys pass you," Kelly, the runner-up to McCarron a year ago, said. "That's the way it is every single week."

This week, that could make for a mighty entertaining Sunday. Unfortunately, on the heels of record crowds on a gorgeous day for the third round, it could also be a wet one.

With a 50 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms through the morning and into the early afternoon, officials have moved up the start time for the final round to 7:15 a.m. in hopes of finishing before stronger storms expected to arrive by mid-afternoon. Stricker, Flesch and Andrade will tee off at 9:15. 

"Hopefully, we can dodge some of the weather," Stricker said. "Again, I'm in position to try to win this (Sunday) and that's a good feeling. There's a lot of guys bunched up there, though.

"I imagine somebody's going to come out of that pack with a good round, shoot a good (score) and that means that's what I'm going to have to do if I want to have a chance to win."

PGA Tour Champions: Madison's Jerry Kelly & Steve Stricker, Rhinelander's Dan Forsman, Fox Point's Skip Kendall at American Family Insurance Championship (University Ridge GC-Madison)

Pos. Player Total Thru Today R1 R2 R3 Total
Wisconsin leaderboard
T2 Steve Stricker -10 F -5 67 67 -- 134
T5 Jerry Kelly -9 F -2 65 70 -- 135
T36 Dan Forsman -3 F* -4 73 68 -- 141
74 Skip Kendall 5 F* 2 75 74 -- 149
Full leaderboard
1 Steve Flesch -11 F -7 68 65 -- 133
T2 Billy Andrade -10 F -6 68 66 -- 134
T2 Steve Stricker -10 F -5 67 67 -- 134
T2 Duffy Waldorf -10 F -5 67 67 -- 134
T5 Retief Goosen -9 F -6 69 66 -- 135
T5 Tom Pernice Jr. -9 F -5 68 67 -- 135
T5 Jerry Kelly -9 F -2 65 70 -- 135
8 Woody Austin -8 F -5 69 67 -- 136
T9 Stephen Leaney -7 F -4 69 68 -- 137
T9 John Daly -7 F -3 68 69 -- 137
T9 Kirk Triplett -7 F -2 67 70 -- 137
T12 Scott McCarron -6 F -5 71 67 -- 138
T12 Shaun Micheel -6 F -4 70 68 -- 138
T12 Colin Montgomerie -6 F -4 70 68 -- 138
T12 Ken Tanigawa -6 F* -7 73 65 -- 138
T12 Esteban Toledo -6 F -3 69 69 -- 138
T12 Brandt Jobe -6 F -3 69 69 -- 138
T12 Tom Gillis -6 F -1 67 71 -- 138
T19 Paul Broadhurst -5 F -4 71 68 -- 139
T19 Ken Duke -5 F -3 70 69 -- 139
T19 Tim Petrovic -5 F* -5 72 67 -- 139
T19 Gary Hallberg -5 F* -5 72 67 -- 139
T19 Dan Olsen -5 F* -5 72 67 -- 139
T19 Miguel Angel Jiménez -5 F -2 69 70 -- 139
T19 Steve Jones -5 F* -6 73 66 -- 139
T19 Scott Parel -5 F -1 68 71 -- 139
T19 David Toms -5 F E 67 72 -- 139
T28 John Huston -4 F -2 70 70 -- 140
T28 Larry Mize -4 F -2 70 70 -- 140
T28 Kevin Sutherland -4 F -2 70 70 -- 140
T28 Cliff Kresge -4 F -1 69 71 -- 140
T28 David McKenzie -4 F E 68 72 -- 140
T28 Corey Pavin -4 F 1 67 73 -- 140
T28 Omar Uresti -4 F* -6 74 66 -- 140
T28 David Frost -4 F 2 66 74 -- 140
T36 Mike Small -3 F* -2 71 70 -- 141
T36 Scott Verplank -3 F* -3 72 69 -- 141
T36 Michael Allen -3 F -1 70 71 -- 141
T36 Olin Browne -3 F* -3 72 69 -- 141
T36 Kenny Perry -3 F -1 70 71 -- 141
T36 Dan Forsman -3 F* -4 73 68 -- 141
T42 Loren Roberts -2 F* -2 72 70 -- 142
T42 Marco Dawson -2 F* -3 73 69 -- 142
T42 Stephen Ames -2 F* -3 73 69 -- 142
T42 Bernhard Langer -2 F 1 69 73 -- 142
T46 Chris DiMarco -1 F* E 71 72 -- 143
T46 Michael Bradley -1 F* E 71 72 -- 143
T46 Jerry Smith -1 F 1 70 73 -- 143
T46 Vijay Singh -1 F* -1 72 71 -- 143
T46 Lee Janzen -1 F 2 69 74 -- 143
T46 Darren Clarke -1 F* -2 73 70 -- 143
T46 Rocco Mediate -1 F* -2 73 70 -- 143
T46 Tom Byrum -1 F* -2 73 70 -- 143
T46 Gibby Gilbert III -1 F 3 68 75 -- 143
T55 Doug Garwood E F 1 71 73 -- 144
T55 Dave Cunningham E F 2 70 74 -- 144
T55 Scott Hoch E F 2 70 74 -- 144
T55 Kent Jones E F* E 72 72 -- 144
T55 Tommy Armour III E F* -1 73 71 -- 144
T55 Greg Kraft E F* -2 74 70 -- 144
T61 Billy Mayfair 1 F* 2 71 74 -- 145
T61 Tommy Tolles 1 F* 2 71 74 -- 145
T61 Paul Goydos 1 F* 1 72 73 -- 145
T64 Bob Estes 2 F 4 70 76 -- 146
T64 Mark Calcavecchia 2 F* 2 72 74 -- 146
T64 Fran Quinn 2 F* 1 73 73 -- 146
T64 Wes Short, Jr. 2 F* E 74 72 -- 146
T68 Gene Sauers 3 F* E 75 72 -- 147
T68 Jeff Sluman 3 F* -1 76 71 -- 147
T70 Willie Wood 4 F* 2 74 74 -- 148
T70 Glen Day 4 F* 2 74 74 -- 148
T70 Joe Durant 4 F* E 76 72 -- 148
T70 Dudley Hart 4 F* -1 77 71 -- 148
74 Skip Kendall 5 F* 2 75 74 -- 149
T75 Fred Funk 7 F* 7 72 79 -- 151
T75 Scott Simpson 7 F* 3 76 75 -- 151
77 Bob Gilder 9 F* 6 75 78 -- 153
78 John Smoltz 10 F* 6 76 78 -- 154

More from this Section