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Stricker on 68-69 start: 'Pretty good for not playing'

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HUMBLE, TexasSteve Stricker has played just seven competitive rounds since Dec. 8, so it’s little wonder that he’s been playing this week’s Shell Houston Open “cautiously.”

Stricker was a first-round exit at the Match Play, then a non-factor at Doral, where he finished 57th. When he arrived here in Houston, he admitted that he hasn’t been able to do much recently, other than hit balls out of his trailer in Wisconsin. Last week he took a trip to the Titleist Performance Institute in southern California, and at the Golf Club of Houston he has been breaking in a new set of irons.

“It’s a little wait and see,” he said Friday. “I don’t know what state my game is in, either.”

Pretty good, actually: Stricker went 68-69 to sit just five shots behind Sergio Garcia heading into the weekend.

With so few competitive reps, the 47-year-old said that his ability to score is always the last aspect to come back. He’s done a fine job of that so far, though, picking his spots and dropping only one shot, on the par-3 14th Friday.

“I don’t feel like I’ve picked up right where I left off,” said Stricker, coming off a 2013 season in which he had eight top 10s in 13 starts and earned $4.4 million. “I’ve hit a couple of loose shots, but it’s pretty good for not playing.”