AKRON, Ohio — Steve Stricker birdied the final hole for a 2-under 68 and a share of the lead Thursday in the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship, the PGA Tour Champions' first major of the season.
“Didn’t hit it all that good, though. I scraped it around, got it up-and-down a lot,” Stricker said. “But a good score certainly.”
Jerry Kelly, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Wes Short Jr. and Rod Pampling joined Stricker atop the leaderboard on Firestone Country Club's South Course, the longtime site of a PGA Tour event and later a World Golf Championship tournament.
“I have fond memory here.” Jimenez said. “I played many, many times WGC tournament here on this golf course. ... The golf course is fast and is a nice way to play the golf course.”
Stricker had three birdies and a bogey.
“You’re rewarded when you hit good shots and you’re not when you hit bad ones,” the U.S. Ryder Cup captain said. “So it’s a fair course right in front of you.”
Paul Broadhurst was the only other player to break par, shooting 69.
Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer were at even-par 70 with Duffy Waldorf, Robert Karlsson and Kenny Perry.
Ernie Els topped the group at 71. Charles Schwab Cup leader Brett Quigley and Vijay Singh shot 73, and defending champion Retief Goosen opened with a 75.
Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., was tied for 21st at 72, Calgary's Stephen Ames was tied for 30th at 73 and David Morland IV of Aurora, Ont., was tied for 53rd at 76.