Steve Stricker posted a solid 66 in the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday, but he knew he was just a side show.
Playing partner Brandt Snedeker put on a putting display that was hard to match, and Stricker found it a challenge to focus on his own game instead of becoming more of a spectator.
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"I watched a great round," said Stricker, himself no slouch in the putting department. "Watching Snedeker pour them in from all over the place is always fun. He's probably the best putter I've ever seen."
There were times in his career that other players gave Stricker such accolades. This season, though, he opted to step back a bit. He played a limited schedule, but the success he had in the tournament he did play encouraged him to juggle his plans this month.
He added the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston to his schedule in hopes of earning an automatic berth on the U.S. team for the President's Cup matches later this month in Dublin, Ohio. After securing the President's Cup berth, he added the BMW Championship to stay sharp for that team event against a team of International stars.
At that point, he had no intention of playing in next week's Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. Stricker had planned to go elk hunting instead but, after giving it more thought, he changed his schedule again. He'll go to East Lake hoping for the same start there that he had at Conway Farms.
"I just hung in there," he said. "There's a lot of birdie holes out there. I didn't hit it the greatest, but I managed my game well."
That will be more of a premium in the second round, when the weather forecast suggests the Lake Forest course will present a more difficult challenge. Stricker will start the day in a four-way tie for third place, three shots behind Snedeker with England's Justin Rose, the U.S. Open champion, rounding out the threesome.
That trio drew great crowd support on Thursday, in part because Stricker, a University of Illinois alum from nearby Madison, Wis., is a gallery favorite and Snedeker was hot.
"There were a lot of people out there," said Stricker. "I got a lot of shout-outs from Wisconsin and Illinois, but I think the crowd was getting ahead because of who was behind us."
The Stricker-Snedeker-Rose threesome played one group in front of top threesome in the FedEx Cup standings: Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.