SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The boys from Madison are making it look easy at Notre Dame in the U.S. Senior Open.
For the second straight day, Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, friends and competitors since their junior years in Madison, Wisconsin, took apart the rain-softened Warren Golf Course, each carding bogey-free rounds of 6-under 64 in the second round Friday morning.
Stricker broke the tournament 36-hole record at 14-under 126, a day after shooting an event-record 62 for a share of the first-round lead with defending champion David Toms. Kelly, a playoff winner over Stricker and Retief Goosen last week in the Madison event that Stricker hosts, was two strokes back.
“I’ve known Jerry from a young age when we were playing amateur events and junior events across Wisconsin,” said the 52-year-old Stricker, the Regions Tradition winner last month for his first major title. “It’s good to see him playing well. I knew this course would set up well for him. He’s doing everything well as it shows from winning last week.”
Stricker has plenty of motivation from his loss Sunday when he missed a birdie putt on the final hole of regulation and bogeyed the first playoff hole.
“It stings a little bit,” Stricker said. “I feel good going around this course. It fits my eye well. It’s a treat to go around here and play, and I like what I’ve been doing so far.”
The 53-year-old Kelly, who admits his personality is the polar opposite of Stricker’s quiet nature, says they have helped each other during their low moments on both tours.
“It’s competition and support and friendship,” Kelly said. “I appreciate everything [Stricker’s] done for my game. I hope he knows I’ve been there for him.”
The victory last week was Kelly’s fourth on the 50-and-over tour. He won three PGA Tour titles.
“Definitely a continuation of last week,” he said. “[I’ve] got a great feel the last five weeks. It’s low every week [on the PGA Tour Champions]. So it teaches you to keep going, keep going.”
Toms was third at 11 under after a 67.
“I had some ups and downs,” Toms said. “Not quite as solid as yesterday but not many days are.”
Chris DiMarco and Bob Estes were 8 under. DiMarco had his second straight 66, and Estes shot 65.
Tom Watson matched his age with 69 on Thursday, then beat it Friday with a 68.
Gary Nicklaus, a son of 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus, birdied his final hole for a 71 with his father and mother watching. That left him at 1-under 139, safely under the expected cut line of 142.