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Stricker, 50, continues to turn back clock at Pebble Beach

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Steve Stricker’s secret to life after 50 on the PGA Tour is about more than keeping his body strong.

It’s about keeping the mind fresh.

“It’s working,” Stricker said at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he’s in weekend contention to try to become the sixth oldest winner in PGA Tour history. He’ll turn 51 in two weeks.

With his 6-under-par 65 Friday at Monterey Peninsula, he moved into a tie for fifth. At 9-under overall, he’s three shots off the lead heading over to play Pebble Beach on Saturday.

Back in 2013, at age 45, he announced he was going to scale back his schedule, to spend more time with his family. This was a bit of a stunner at the time, because Stricker was still very much a factor on Tour, with eight victories in his 40s. He scaled back to just 11 starts in 2014, about half of what he had been playing every year. He cut back to nine starts in ’15.

Stricker could play up to 21 times this year, in combined PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions events. He would like 12 to 15 of those to be PGA Tour events.

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What gives?

“When I was 45, my goal was to scale back so I was still excited to play when I turned 50,” Stricker said. “I didn’t want to hit the wall. My kids were at an age for me to stay home. My oldest was into high school, she was playing sports. It was just the time to be home.

“I wanted to be excited every time I went out to play, and I have been. And that’s been the key to playing well when I have come out. I’m still really excited to be out here to play.”

Stricker feels good about his ability to keep up with the kids today.

“Really, it challenges age, more than anything, just getting back to some of that good golf I played four, five, six years ago,” Stricker said. “I feel like I’m still hitting it out there, decent length. That’s not a problem. Some of the scoring clubs aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be, but I feel good, knock on wood. My body feels good. So, I’m excited for the year.”