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Stricker quizzes McIlroy about girlfriend in Rd. 1

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Steve Stricker quizzed Rory McIlroy hard during their round together Thursday at The Players Championship.

The topic?

Not McIlroy’s switch to Nike, not their mutual friendship with Tiger Woods, not Pete Dye’s diabolical TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course design.

“We were talking about his girlfriend, Caroline,” Stricker said.

That would be tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

“I was asking a bunch of questions about her, just because my daughter and my wife are into tennis,' Stricker said. “I think we’re going to go to U.S. Open tennis this fall. So, I asked how she prepares, what kind of workout regimen she has, what their days are like.'

“Yeah, I don’t care about Rory, I was asking about Caroline.”

By the way, Stricker, McIlroy and Adam Scott tore it up in the first round with McIlroy shooting 66, Stricker 67 and Scott 69.

“I made six birdies today and never had the honor,” Stricker said.

Stricker is showing his scaled back schedule isn’t slowing him much at all. In five starts this year, he has two second-place finishes and a tie for fifth. He has made $1,935,340 and ranks eighth on the money list despite what feels like part-time status.

At 46, Stricker didn’t have any trouble keeping up with McIlroy, 24, and Scott, 32.

“We had a good time,” Stricker said. “I have a ton of respect for those two kids, and it’s fun to play with them.”

Stricker’s fans had some fun with his new “Savage” image in Thursday’s first round. In a new Avis commercial depicting how its cars get Stricker to events 'pumped up for victory,” the laid-back Stricker humorously declares “I’m a savage.”

Stricker said he heard a lot of shouts for the “Savage” during his round.

“I get a lot of yell outs, and a lot of people seem to like it,” Stricker said. “I think I seem like a cornball, but it’s all good, it’s all good fun. It’s the first one I’ve really done, ever.”