Stricker makes a late charge « The Tour Report

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Steve Stricker was just 1 under through 13 holes and coming off a bogey after finding a greenside bunker and failing to get up and down.

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Then he got hot.

Four birdies and five holes later, Stricker — at No. 6 the highest-ranked player in this week’s field — put himself firmly in contention after Friday’s first round.

Stricker’s 5-under 68 left him in a four-way tie for second, one shot behind defending champ Jonathan Byrd.

“To finish with four birdies out of the last five holes definitely brings some momentum into tomorrow,” Stricker said.

While Byrd did the majority of his scoring on the front nine with six consecutive birdies, Stricker wiped out two early birdies when he double bogeyed the par-3 eighth. His 5 iron failed to carry the hazard. Stricker said he simply pulled the wrong club.

“I wasn’t very happy at the time,” he said.

But a bounce-back birdie at nine got him back on track, but it wasn’t until those last five holes that he did most of his damage. On Friday, that five-hole stretch was the easiest on the course.

“You hate to wait like that through the course of your round,” he said, “but it does give you a chance to make some birdies coming in.”

Good for him.