DUBLIN, Ohio —- The eighth hole at Muirfield Village has given Steve Stricker trouble over the years. It’s a tough par 3. Late Friday afternoon Stricker pulled out a six-iron, and while the ball was still in the air, it was tough to tell from his body language whether he liked it or not as the Stricks turned his body as if trying to will the ball to the right. Turns out he hit the perfect shot — right into the hole, vaulting him to the outright lead at the halfway mark at the Memorial Tournament.
“It’s just a tough par-3,” said Stricker . There’s not a lot of room there to hit it, and what I had going for me there was a little bit of a left-to-right wind and I draw the ball so I could pretty much hold up against the wind, and it started off right at the hole and went in.
“It’s a good par-3, and there’s not much room there to hit it. You know, when it came off, it came off good, and I was surprised that it came off good because I haven’t hit some good shots there in years prior. But it came off good, and it just — it really looked good the whole way. It wasn’t one of those that swooped in from one side or the other, it just was going right down the flag the whole way.”
Here’s the video of Stricker’s ace:
It was Stricker’s second hole-in-one at a tournament. His last came in 1997 on the famed 16th hole at the Phoenix Open during the final round (Tiger Woods also aced that hole a day earlier). For that feat, he won an Oldsmobile Aurora. Where’s that car now?
“I used it for a little while and then traded it in for a minivan,” said Stricker, who hails from Wisconsin.
Now that’s a classic, Midwestern and practical Steve Stricker answer.
Stricker isn’t sure how many holes-in-one he’s had in his life. He’s lost count, but estimates probably 7 or 8.
When Stricker made the turn (he teed off No. 10), he was one-over. He carded birdies and Nos. 5 and 6 and then aced No. 8 to get to eight-under. To cap off the great round, he birdied No. 9 to come in with a 30 on the second nine. Going into the weekend, Stricker has a three-shot lead over Ricky Barnes, Rod Pampling, Jonathan Byrd and Rory McIlroy.
Oh, and what did Stricks do with the ball from his ace? He signed it and handed it to the scorer. Thing is, Stricker didn’t tell him it was THE ball.
“I don’t know if he knows (that it’s the one from No. 8),” said Stricker. “I just signed it and gave it to him…I didn’t tell him. It’s just a ball.”
Maybe it is just a ball, but it’ll mean the world to the fan/volunteer when he finds out tomorrow morning after reading the paper.
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)