Steve Stricker's improbable U.S. Open journey continues into weekend

US Open-Steve Stricker-Erin Hills Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Steve Stricker's improbable U.S. Open journey continues into weekend

PGA Tour

Steve Stricker's improbable U.S. Open journey continues into weekend

ERIN, Wis. – Steve Stricker went to a lot of trouble to get to the 117th U.S. Open. He wrote a letter to the United States Golf Association asking for a special exemption, which was denied. He added events to his schedule in an attempt to earn enough world ranking points to qualify and fell short.

Finally, he did it the hard way, playing his way to Erin Hills in 36-hole sectional qualifying.

After probably – barely – surviving the cut Friday, he was asked whether the effort was worth it.

“Oh, yeah, for sure,” he said. “I wish I was about five shots better. But yeah, I’ve enjoyed this experience. It’s been unbelievable. The amount of support that I’ve received every hole I walk up to, every tee box, it’s been unreal. The standing ovation on 18 … it’s been really cool.

“I wanted to experience our first U.S. Open (in Wisconsin) more than anything. I’m glad I went through it, and I’m glad I’m here.”

Stricker, 50, of Madison, added an even-par 72 to his first-round 73 and was at 1-over 145 going into the weekend. The cut line late in the afternoon was at 1-over, meaning he’ll advance to play the weekend if it stays there.

“It was a good day for me,” he said. “I struck the ball nicely, had some opportunities. Rolled a few putts over the edge.”

Next week, Stricker goes from a major championship pressure cooker to an event he hosts, the American Family Insurance Championship. The 54-hole PGA Tour Champions event is Friday through Sunday at University Ridge in Madison and Stricker will be playing in it for the first time after turning 50 this year.

“Next week is for totally different purposes,” he said. “It’s about raising money for our foundation and giving back to our area and our community. That’s a totally different feel for me next week.

“This here is more on a playing level. I want to play well and move up the leader board. I still feel like I’ve got a lot of good golf in me and that’s what I’m trying to do this week.”

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