AP

Ryder Cup redux: Harrington leads Stricker in US Senior Open

Jun 24, 2022, 5:06 AM | Updated: 5:07 pm

Stephen Dodd tees off on No. 1 during the first round of the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament Thurs...

Stephen Dodd tees off on No. 1 during the first round of the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament Thursday, June 23, 2022, at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. (Rick Kintzel/The Morning Call via AP)

(Rick Kintzel/The Morning Call via AP)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker are going at it again on a big stage, and this time they have more say over the outcome at the U.S. Senior Open.

The two Ryder Cup captains from Whistling Straits last September will be in the final group going into the weekend at Saucon Valley after Harrington birdied three of his last six holes for a 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead.

Stricker, whose U.S. team of stars throttled Europe in the Ryder Cup, did some nifty work of his own to overcome a sloppy start. He birdied his last three holes for a 69.

Harrington was at 6-under 136 going into a weekend that will not include Bernhard Langer for the first time since the German great was still in his 40s.

The 64-year-old Langer needed a birdie on his final hole to have any chance of making the cut. He made bogey for a 75 and missed by two shots. It was the first time in 65 senior majors that Langer failed to qualify for the weekend.

Jay Haas, the 68-year-old who on Thursday became the fifth player in U.S. Senior Open history to shoot his age with a 67, had to settle for Tom Watson’s age Friday. That was a 72, and it was good enough to keep him in the mix at Saucon Valley.

Rob Labritz, the longtime club professional who earned a PGA Tour Champions card this season, had another 69 and was two shots behind Harrington.

The group at 3-under 139 featured Haas, Rocco Mediate and Steven Alker, the top PGA Tour Champions player this year who recovered from a rough opening round with a 67.

Even as sunshine replaced rain, only 12 players remained under par. Defending champion Jim Furyk stumbled to a 76 and made the cut on the number.

Harrington who turned 50 last August, is playing his first U.S. Senior Open and still has plenty of speed in his swing to handle the thick rough still wet from Thursday’s rain.

He kept bogeys off his card even when he strayed from the fairway, and he broke out of a tie with Stricker with a wedge to 4 feet on the par-4 eighth hole toward the end of his round.

“It’s a much stronger test than I expected. This is way, way tougher than our regular Champions Tour events,” Harrington said. “I knew this was a big advantage to me starting the week, both length-wise and being able to play from the rough if I am in the rough.”

Stricker didn’t do much wrong except for the par-5 sixth hole, where he tried to take on too much out of the rough and it led to a double bogey. That stalled his round, and then he made up for it at the end.

“I was just trying to right the ship there. It can get going sideways in a U.S. Open pretty quickly. So just try to hit the fairways, good amount of greens,” Stricker said.

Stricker said he told his brother-in-law who is his caddie for the week, Mario Tiziani, that he wanted to try to get a few shots back over the closing hole.

“I wasn’t thinking three. Maybe I should have,” Stricker said. “I just wanted to get back to even really for the day and ended up birdieing the last three. It was a good way to finish the day.”

Harrington and Stricker remain good friends. They were captains of two vastly different teams at Whistling Straits — the Americans were young and finally played to their potential, while Europe had aging veterans and had virtually no fans because of pandemic travel restrictions.

The result was a 19-9 victory for the Americans.

And now they will be together hitting shots of their own. This is the second time in a major the Ryder Cup captains play together. They also were paired in the third round of the Regions Traditions last month.

The only concern for Harrington was his driver cracking while on the range. He hits a lot of drivers on the range at home to work on his speed work, so it’s not the first time that has happened. His replacement had a little bit more spin and flew higher.

“Outside of that, just a couple of holes where I just felt I was trying to do it rather than letting it happen,” Harrington said. “I definitely got back into it later on in the round. More of that for the weekend.”

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Ryder Cup redux: Harrington leads Stricker in US Senior Open