The PGA Championship: Day 1
August 11 2011
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The last six major championships have all gone to players born outside the United States, and Steve Stricker is the highest-ranked American in the field.
In other words, he might be the best chance the U.S. has of ending that streak. Shooting a record-tying 63 Thursday certainly helped an awful lot, too.
“I try to downplay that stuff,” Stricker said.
He’s also trying to downplay his nerves and the fact that he’s never won a major championship.
“I think everybody is a little uptight in them,” Stricker said. “I’m more nervous in them.”
Whatever nervousness he has didn’t show on Thursday. Stricker made seven birdies and didn’t come close to making bogey — except for maybe on No. 2 (Stricker’s 11th hole), where he blocked his tee shot well to the right — on an otherwise difficult day of scoring.
Not surprisingly a big part of Stricker’s success in the opening round was due to putting. He took just 24 putts, which included a dozen one-putts. Two of those came on the difficult par-3 15th and par-4 18th holes.
“I feel that I can make just about anything,” Stricker said. “You have this feeling like this could go in, even if it’s from 25, 30 feet.
“I don’t know if that separates me or not, but that’s what I feel when I walk up to a putt is that I have a lot of confidence and I feel like I should make it.”
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