Steve Stricker

Steve Stricker hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the third round at the 2019 U.S. Senior Open on Saturday.

AKRON, Ohio — Firestone Country Club, like many American classics of its era,  can make even the best golfers in the world look fairly average.

And that was the curve against which Steve Stricker graded his performance Saturday, a 3-over-par 73 that felt like 100 for a guy who had bettered 70 in seven consecutive rounds on the PGA Tour Champions before doing it again in Thursday's opening-round 64 at this Firestone Senior Players Championship.

By the end of the day, however, the seemingly lackluster round dropped the Madison golfer into a three-way tie for third place at 3-under 207, just two strokes behind Scott Parel, the third golfer in as many days to take his turn sleeping on the lead in the four of the year's five senior circuit majors. Parel birdied five of his last 10 holes and bettered Saturday's average (73.026) by six shots in taking a one-shot lead over second-round leader Retief Goosen.

"I got off to a poor start and then I saw the guys behind me got off to a poorer start, so ..., you know, you're never out of it," Stricker told reporters after the round. "You've just got to keep plugging, keep grinding away. You never know when you run off a few birdies and you get right back into it.

"It's a challenging place, as you can see, and it looks like I'll be two or three shots back going into (Sunday), so it's not a bad position to be in. And I just need to play better. Bottom line is I need to play like I did the first day."

Indeed, Stricker made nothing happen until his third-to-last hole, which he birdied to keep his name in the mix entering Sunday's final round. The two-time PGA Tour Champions major championship winner this year bogeyed Nos. 1, 8, 12 and 15 before his lone birdie — ending a streak of 26 consecutive holes without one for a guy who made four and a hole-in-one Thursday — kept him within two shots of the lead.

"It's just a good golf course," said Stricker, who is looking to join Gary Player (1988), Jack Nicklaus (1991) and Bernhard Langer (2017) as the only golfer to win three senior majors in one season. "I mean, if you don't hit it in the fairway, it's a struggle. Sometimes you do hit it in the fairway and you've still got to maneuver a ball around a tree or overhanging limbs or branches.

"But the wind came up a little bit at times today, made things a little bit more difficult. A different direction as well, three different days really wind-wise. But it's a course you need to be on, and if you're not, it exposes some things and you've got to fight your way around. And that's what I did (Saturday)."

PGA Tour Champions: Madison's Steve Stricker & Jerry Kelly, Rhinelander's Dan Forsman at Firestone Senior Players Championship | Third-round results (Firestone CC-Akron, Ohio)

Pos. Players Total Thru Today R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
Wisconsin leaderboard
T3 Steve Stricker -3 F 3 64 70 73 -- 207
T22 Jerry Kelly 3 F 2 69 72 72 -- 213
T40 Dan Forsman 9 F 5 76 68 75 -- 219
Full leaderboard
1 Scott Parel -5 F -3 66 72 67 -- 205
2 Retief Goosen -4 F 5 69 62 75 -- 206
T3 Steve Stricker -3 F 3 64 70 73 -- 207
T3 Kent Jones -3 F E 70 67 70 -- 207
T3 Brandt Jobe -3 F 3 69 65 73 -- 207
6 Tim Petrovic -2 F -1 71 68 69 -- 208
7 Jay Haas -1 F 2 69 68 72 -- 209
T8 Vijay Singh E F E 70 70 70 -- 210
T8 Ken Duke E F E 69 71 70 -- 210
T8 Colin Montgomerie E F 1 71 68 71 -- 210
T8 Steve Flesch E F 2 71 67 72 -- 210
T12 Miguel Angel Jiménez 1 F -2 73 70 68 -- 211
T12 Wes Short, Jr. 1 F E 71 70 70 -- 211
T12 Kevin Sutherland 1 F 1 70 70 71 -- 211
T15 Michael Bradley 2 F -3 77 68 67 -- 212
T15 Doug Garwood 2 F -2 72 72 68 -- 212
T15 Tom Lehman 2 F -1 72 71 69 -- 212
T15 John Daly 2 F -1 70 73 69 -- 212
T15 Woody Austin 2 F E 71 71 70 -- 212
T15 Scott McCarron 2 F 1 74 67 71 -- 212
T15 Bob Estes 2 F 2 71 69 72 -- 212
T22 Kenny Perry 3 F 1 71 71 71 -- 213
T22 Billy Andrade 3 F 1 73 69 71 -- 213
T22 Jerry Kelly 3 F 2 69 72 72 -- 213
T22 Duffy Waldorf 3 F 3 70 70 73 -- 213
T22 Olin Browne 3 F 3 70 70 73 -- 213
T22 Tommy Tolles 3 F 6 70 67 76 -- 213
28 Shaun Micheel 4 F -1 70 75 69 -- 214
29 Scott Dunlap 5 F 4 73 68 74 -- 215
T30 Fred Couples 6 F -1 75 72 69 -- 216
T30 Steve Jones 6 F E 71 75 70 -- 216
T32 Stephen Ames 7 F E 76 71 70 -- 217
T32 David McKenzie 7 F 3 70 74 73 -- 217
T32 Joe Durant 7 F 3 75 69 73 -- 217
T32 Paul Broadhurst 7 F 4 73 70 74 -- 217
T36 Billy Mayfair 8 F E 77 71 70 -- 218
T36 Gene Sauers 8 F 1 76 71 71 -- 218
T36 Corey Pavin 8 F 3 75 70 73 -- 218
T36 Marco Dawson 8 F 7 72 69 77 -- 218
T40 Jeff Sluman 9 F 3 76 70 73 -- 219
T40 Mark Calcavecchia 9 F 2 72 75 72 -- 219
T40 Glen Day 9 F 4 72 73 74 -- 219
T40 Dan Forsman 9 F 5 76 68 75 -- 219
T40 Scott Verplank 9 F 5 68 76 75 -- 219
T40 Tom Byrum 9 F 5 74 70 75 -- 219
T40 Paul Goydos 9 F 8 70 71 78 -- 219
T47 Bernhard Langer 10 F 2 76 72 72 -- 220
T47 Bart Bryant 10 F 3 72 75 73 -- 220
T47 Jeff Maggert 10 F 5 71 74 75 -- 220
T50 Tom Gillis 11 F 2 74 75 72 -- 221
T50 David Frost 11 F 2 78 71 72 -- 221
T50 Loren Roberts 11 F 3 76 72 73 -- 221
T50 Kirk Triplett 11 F 3 75 73 73 -- 221
T50 Tom Pernice Jr. 11 F 7 71 73 77 -- 221
T55 John Cook 12 F 2 77 73 72 -- 222
T55 John Huston 12 F 3 73 76 73 -- 222
T55 Lee Janzen 12 F 4 71 77 74 -- 222
T58 Larry Mize 13 F 2 76 75 72 -- 223
T58 David Toms 13 F 5 73 75 75 -- 223
T60 Esteban Toledo 14 F 1 76 77 71 -- 224
T60 Russ Cochran 14 F 2 76 76 72 -- 224
T62 Michael Allen 15 F E 75 80 70 -- 225
T62 Sandy Lyle 15 F 5 72 78 75 -- 225
64 Rocco Mediate 16 F 7 76 73 77 -- 226
T65 Joey Sindelar 17 F 6 73 78 76 -- 227
T65 Willie Wood 17 F 8 74 75 78 -- 227
T67 Ken Tanigawa 18 F 4 78 76 74 -- 228
T67 Carlos Franco 18 F 6 75 77 76 -- 228
T67 Jerry Smith 18 F 9 75 74 79 -- 228
70 Chris DiMarco 21 F 11 76 74 81 -- 231
71 Mark Brooks 24 F 7 74 83 77 -- 234
72 Robert Gamez 27 F 9 81 77 79 -- 237
73 Bob Gilder 28 F 9 75 84 79 -- 238
74 Bobby Wadkins 29 F 6 81 82 76 -- 239
75 Scott Simpson 33 F 11 82 80 81 -- 243
76 Danny Edwards 37 F 8 88 81 78 -- 247
WD Mark O'Meara -- -- -- 36 -- -- -- 36
WD Tommy Armour III -- -- -- 74 29 -- -- 103