US Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker fired a five-under par 66 at TPC Scottsdale on Friday to put himself in position to chase Sam Snead’s record for oldest US PGA Tour winner at the Phoenix Open this weekend.
Stricker, who turns 54 on February 23, shared the clubhouse lead midway through the second round with Keegan Bradley, who carded a 65 to join Stricker on 11-under 131.
Stricker is chasing his 12th tour title, but his first since Kapalua in 2012.
If he can end the drought, he would supplant Snead, who was 52 years and 10 months old when he won his tour-record 82nd title at the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open.
“I mean, I know it’s a long shot,” Stricker said. “I’ve got to play my very best, just like anybody else does out here.
“But you know, I’ve been there. I’ve won a few times out on this tour and I know what it takes, although it has been a while.
“It would be fun to see how I handle it, if I do get that opportunity.”
Stricker was six-under for the day before a mistake at his final hole, the ninth.
“Tried to hit just a little eight-iron on the last hole,” said Stricker, who was in the fairway some 160 yards out. “I was in between clubs and hit it awful.”
The bogey was the only blemish on a card that included a 13-foot birdie at the 11th, a five-footer at 13 and seven-foot birdie putts at 15 and 17 — where he picked up a stroke despite finding the rough off the tee.
He added two more birdies at the third and seventh.
Stricker, who has won five time on the PGA Tour Champions circuit for players 50 and older, said his experiences on each tour benefitted him on the other.
“I’ve played both tours the last three years, and each tour helps the other tour,” Stricker said. “When I play out here and I go to the Champions Tour event, the courses are a little bit shorter, the pins are a little bit more generous, so playing out here helps me when I go there.
“And then when I go there and get in contention or win an event, I feel that that gives me confidence and motivation to come back out here and play.”
South Korean Lee Kyoung-hoon and American Scottie Scheffler were in the clubhouse on 10-under.
Lee had seven birdies in a five-under 66 and Scheffler had an eagle and six birdies to counter a double-bogey in his 65.
Matthew NeSmith, who shared the overnight lead with Mark Hubbard, was 10-under through eight holes.
World number two Jon Rahm of Spain made little headway, his two-under 69 giving him a 36-hole total of five-under.