Now healthy, Stricker shares 36-hole lead at Innisbrook

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PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Steve Stricker’s limited schedule was only going to work if he played well.

He struggled in his nine starts last year following offseason back surgery. The Valspar Championship is already his sixth appearance this season, and he’s beginning to play his way back into tournament shape. 

The 49-year-old tied the low round of the day Friday, a 5-under 66, that gave him a share of his first 36-hole lead since 2012.

“It’s frustrating when you’re only going to play those limited amount of times and you’re not playing that well,” he said. “If I’m going to play 12 or 14 times, whatever the number is going to be, I want to play well and I still think I can play well. But I was noticing that I wasn’t game ready.” 

Stricker is coming off a T-11 at Riviera, his best result since the 2014 PGA.  Through two rounds here, he is tied with Will MacKenzie at 5-under 137.

Stricker was uncharacteristically poor on the greens last year, but he has found his old stroke. He made 16 of his 18 attempts inside 15 feet on Friday and is ranked first this week in putting. 

“I’ve putted great this year in the times I’ve played,” he said, “and hopefully that continues.”