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July 13 2012

7:38 PM

Stricker in contention once again

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Steve Stricker finds himself in familiar territory at TPC Deere Run.

No matter what, Steve Stricker's first goal is always just to make the cut. Of course, at TPC Deere Run, that never seems to be in question -- not when the world No. 13 has won the John Deere Classic each of the last three years.

Stricker accomplished goal No. 1 on Friday with ease when he fired a 67 -- his 13th subpar score in his last 14 trips around the TPC layout – to move to 10 under. He was only three strokes off Troy Matteson's lead when he finished, too.

"You got to make the cut to be able to try to win the tournament," Stricker said. "That's always my first goal, believe it or not, in tournaments: Make sure you're playing on the weekend."

Stricker actually didn't get off to the start he'd hoped  on Friday -- missing the green at the 11th hole, his second, with a wedge for the second straight day. But he more compensated for that bogey with five birdies to remain in contention for a fourth straight title.

"Kind of wasn't the start I was looking for," Stricker acknowledged. "I was hoping to get a birdie before I got a bogey -- or no bogeys at all.
   
"But I hung in there. I was patient and hit some good shots. Made a nice long putt at 13 and birdied 14, so I righted the ship pretty quickly and got her going in the right direction."

If the lead remains the same, Stricker actually picked up a shot on Friday, which left him feeling pretty good. He knows a lot can happen over the final 36 holes and he has a comfort zone at the John Deere Classic like none other.

"There is a lot of good players and a long ways to go, so I just have to keep doing my thing," said Stricker,  who has shot as low as 60 at TPC Deere Run.

"I need a low round. That's what it's going to take.  One of these two rounds on Saturday or Sunday I'm going to have to put up a real low one and get right in there."

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