PEBBLE BEACH, California -- Steve Stricker ended his Saturday right where he began it, which means the Madison native still has a shot to become the sixth-oldest winner in PGA Tour history with a low one Sunday at Pebble Beach GL.
The 50-year-old Stricker remained tied for fifth place, three strokes off the pace, following the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Considering how he started the day, holding serve was a moral victory.
Stricker fired a 2-under-par 70 to get to 11-under 204 after 54 holes. He trails co-leaders Ted Potter Jr. (62) and Dustin Johnson (70), who are knotted at 14-under 201 and two clear of Australian Jason Day (69) — a playoff winner two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego — and Troy Merritt (69) with 18 holes to go Sunday on the famed Pebble Beach layout.
"I kind of got off to a slow start, didn't make very good adjustments early on," Stricker told reporters. "The greens were a little bit firmer. I sent it over a couple greens early on. I struggled, I hung in there and then kind of righted the ship on that back side. It was a difficult day (Saturday), more difficult I should say than the other days. I was proud of the way I hung in there."
Indeed, Stricker was headed in a different direction early in his round.
He started out bogey-birdie-bogey and only got back to even-par thanks to a birdie on the par-5 sixth hole and stayed there until the turn. A birdie at the par-4 10th hole and another at the par-4 15th hole helped Stricker climb back into the top five and earn a spot in the next-to-last group Sunday with Day and Merritt.
"Just to have the chance," Stricker said when asked what excites him most about having a chance to win Sunday. "I haven't won for awhile out here. I still feel like I'm capable of winning out here. Obviously, I've got to do a lot of good things to do it. I don't have length like some of these guys have, but I've been around long enough to know what works for me and I try to lean on those things, and I'm going to have to do the same thing (Sunday)."
Unfortunately for Stricker, he'll have to go it alone in the pro-am portion of the festivities. He and partner Toby Keith, the country music singer, shot a third-round 68 for a 17-under 198 total to miss the team cut by two shots.
They weren't alone.
Burlington native and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo also finished at 17-under with his partner, PGA Tour rookie Will Zalatoris, after combing for a 2-under 70 in the third round. Madison native Jerry Kelly, who missed the cut individually despite a 69, also missed the pro-am cut with partner Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, after their second consecutive round of 6-under 66 left them at 16-under 199.
David Kohler, the CEO of Kohler Co., also missed the cut with partner Tim Herron. After back-to-back 72s, they shot 68 and finished at 3-under.
This is Stricker's ninth start in this event since 1993 and he's never finished higher than a tie for 13th (in 1995). This is Stricker's 479th start on the PGA Tour and he's gone the last 81 starts without a victory going back to the 2012 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Only seven golfers over the age of 50 have ever won on the PGA Tour, the last being Davis Love III at 51 years, 4 months during the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
"It would mean a lot," Stricker said. "That's why I continue to play out here. I still feel like I've got the game to compete out here. I've got to do everything right, just like anybody else who is going to win for the week, they have to have a lot of good things happen. But I think when a guy gets up to be my age, I think, even more so. But I still have a lot of confidence in what I'm doing, confidence in my game and I still enjoy being out here, bottom line."