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Stricker comes up aces to lead

DUBLIN, Ohio — On a course with a fine line between birdies and bogeys, Steve Stricker found perfection Friday in the Memorial with a hole-in-one that put him in control at Muirfield Village.

Stricker used a 6-iron on the 188-yard eighth hole — his 17th hole of the second round — then birdied his final hole for 5-under 67. Instead of being part of a five-way tie for the lead, he was three shots clear.

"It's a shock when you see that go in, obviously, but in a good way," Stricker said. "A great way to finish the round."

He was at 9-under 135. Rory McIlroy (72), Ricky Barnes (70), Jonathan Byrd (67) and Rod Pampling (66) were tied for second.

McIlroy has 13 birdies over two rounds but also has five bogeys and a sloppy double bogey Friday on No. 14, when he pulled his tee shot into the tiny stream to the left and nearly went into the water on his next shot.

"I felt as if I played good enough to shoot something in the 60s, but I just made too many mistakes," McIlroy said.

McIlroy wasn't alone in the good and bad of Muirfield Village. Rickie Fowler, the runnerup last year, had 12 pars in 36 holes. He was at 3-under 141, six shots behind. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III had six birdies and an eagle but shot 73.

Luke Donald, in his debut as the No. 1 player, finished with back-to-back birdies for 69 that left him at 139.

Stricker played his final five holes in 5 under, highlighted by his second career hole-in-one.

His other ace came in the 1997 Phoenix Open on No. 16, the biggest party scene on the tour. That was the hole — the same year, no less — where Tiger Woods made an ace and was showered with beer cans and plastic cups in one of the most raucous celebrations seen in this game. The replay has been shown countless times.

"You didn't see mine that year? No?" Stricker said, grinning.

LPGA: Third-ranked Jiyai Shin shot 5-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over playing partner Sandra Gal after the wind-whipped opening round of the ShopRite Classic in Galloway Township, N.J. Gusts of 20 mph or more blew off the bay near Atlantic City, and only 13 players broke par 71. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse each shot 1-over 72.

CHAMPIONS: Mark Brooks, a tour rookie who turned 50 on March 25, shot 6-under 65 for a two-stroke lead over Mark Calcavecchia and Peter Senior after the first round of the Principal Charity Classic in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Stricker comes up aces to lead 06/03/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 10:26pm]
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