Stricker moved into contention at the AT&T National with a flourish Friday. Starting on the back nine, he holed a bunker shot for a birdie at No. 10, then sank putts from 48 and 58 feet for birdies at Nos. 11 and 2. His round included seven birdies and a bogey, moving him from 1 over to 5 under for the tournament.
I made a couple of bombs, which you have to do to have a round like this, said Stricker, who finished second to K.J. Choi here last year. I really enjoy this course. It gives you that major-type atmosphere. Theres a lot of history here.
Stricker then headed to the showers to prepare for another big event: his first visit inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He was among a group of 14 players invited by President Bush for dinner and fireworks in a twofold celebration. Not only was America having a birthday, but the presidents birthday is Sunday.
I had to look it up online, Stricker said. I wasnt sure if we were celebrating the Fourth or his birthday. I guess its both.
Stricker said he didnt know how he ended up on the guest list'heres a hint, Steve: Youre the highest rated golfer in the world rankings at the tournament'and he considered flying his family from Wisconsin so they could join him for the special evening. He learned of the invitation when he received a call from the White House itself.
It was kind of a weird call, Stricker said. And then you give them all your vital information. Its pretty interesting. Background check.
THE PRESIDENTIAL 14:
The full list of players invited to the White House: Fred Funk, Davis Love III, Billy Andrade, Jonathan Byrd, Fred Couples, Rocco Mediate, Lucas Glover, Ben Crane, Jim Furyk, Johnson Wagner, Mike Weir, Brandt Snedeker, Corey Pavin and Stricker.
PERNICE CRITIZES TOUR:
When it comes to club grooves and Tiger-less tournaments, Tom Pernice Jr. thinks the PGA TOUR is lax on the job.
Pernice, a former member of the TOURs policy board, criticized commissioner Tim Finchem on Friday for not doing more to resolve two contentious issues: U-shaped grooves that produced extra spin coming out of the rough, and the tournaments that have essentially become second-tier because they are rarely' if ever'visited by Tiger Woods or any of the other top players.
I think theres several things that commissioner Finchem has done a great job on, and I think theres been several things that hes very weak on, Pernice said after matching the course record with a 63.
The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club last year proposed limiting the amount of spin produced by U-shaped grooves. U-shaped grooves have allowed some golfers to drive tee shots into the rough with virtual impunity, knowing that the extra spin will keep the approach shot on the green.
But the new rule has yet to be implemented, and Pernice thinks its time for the tour to act.
Why isnt the PGA TOUR and Tim Finchem stepping to the plate and using our own rules? Pernice said. Tims been against it all the time. We should have our own rules, and this way we could use V-grooves and everybody can have the same set, and driving the ball in the fairway might make a difference.
Pernice also said the TOUR should require Woods and other top players to play more events.
There are some things that the TOUR could do to help the sponsors, Pernice said. I think theres got to be something. Michael Jordan didnt get to skip and not go play in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks when the Knicks were good and he didnt like playing there or whatever.
THE FAMILY WAY:
Jeff Overton has golf in his blood. At least he thinks so.
My mom, she won the nine-hole city tournament back when I was in her stomach, Overton said after his second-round 65 moved him in contention.
He then added: I think I was in her stomach. We havent quite been able to do the math on it. I think she shot 50.
SHOT OF THE DAY:
Pavin had the first hole-in-one of the tournament, an ace at the 215-yard 10th.
Pavins shot with his hybrid 3-iron took two big hops and rolled straight into the hole. It was the second hole-in-one in the AT&T Nationals brief history. Kevin Stadler aced the 13th in the third round of last years inaugural tournament.