Stricker waves to the crowd following a birdie on the third hole during the third round of the U.S. Senior Open Championship at the Warren Golf Course on June 29, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
By John Strege
The U.S. Senior Open is not over yet, though Steve Stricker likely has made winning a formality.
Stricker, 52, distanced himself from the rest of the field with a four-under-par 66 at Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame, giving him a six-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final round.
His 54-hole score of 18-under par 192 is the lowest in the history of the U.S. Senior Open. His friend Jerry Kelly, who shot an even-par 70, is alone in second, while defending champion David Toms also shot a 70 and trails Stricker by seven.
Stricker demonstrated the formula for a runaway victory by beginning the third round with a two-stroke lead, then equaling the best round of the day. He made a bogey on his sixth hole on Thursday and has played the next 48 holes without making one.
“My goal was just to keep building on my lead,” Stricker said, “and get as many under as I can, but not be dumb about it, either, and not take any unnecessary risks. If I can shoot another bogey-free round tomorrow and add my three, four, five, six or more birdies I’ll be all right. But not making those mistakes, that’s the key tomorrow, to go out and put up another clean scorecard.”
Though he continues to split his time between the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, Stricker has been showing the ability to dominate on the senior tour. He has finished sixth or better, including a victory, in four of his last five senior starts.
The victory, in May, came in the Regions Tradition, the first major championship of his long career.