Steve Stricker watches his tee shot on the second hole during the second round Friday of the PGA Championship. (Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)
Louisville, Ky. — Steve Stricker is going to the Ryder Cup next month at Gleneagles. There’s still an outside chance he’ll have his golf clubs.
Stricker is having his worst season in more than 10 years, part of that due to a creaky 47-year-old body, mainly because of his part-time schedule. He is No. 38 in the Ryder Cup standings, so far removed that he agreed to be an assistant under U.S. captain Tom Watson.
But it’s not over yet.
Stricker made four birdies on his front nine before having to settle for a 3-under 68. But it put him at 5-under 139, only four shots behind Rory McIlroy. If he were to finish alone in second place, he likely would make the team.
“I would have to do something very special,” said Stricker, who has played on the last three American teams. “And I’m obviously going to try to do the best I can this weekend.
“But it really hasn’t crossed my mind as a player just because I haven’t played that much. I haven’t played all that well this year and I’m just trying to have a good tournament here this week — try to finish the year off on a positive note.”
Watson wasn’t so quick to rule him out.
“Strick has got game. If he should win here, there would be no question that he would be on the team rather than a vice captain — no question,” Watson said.
Watson said he hasn’t ruled him out even if he doesn’t qualify. There are two FedEx Cup playoff events before he makes his three captain’s picks on Sept. 2.
“That’s the magic date for me,” Watson said. “If he runs the tables and happens to win and things like that, I’d be a fool not to consider him.”
Kenny Perry achieved his goal. He gets to play golf Sunday in perhaps his final major, in his home state of Kentucky, on his 54th birthday.
Perry played two PGAs and a Ryder Cup at Valhalla. He was given a special invitation this year, and he easily made the cut with a 2-under 69 on Friday. Perry was in the middle of the pack at 1-under 212, eight shots out of the lead.
“I don’t know if I’m in good position, but I made the cut and get to play on the weekend, which is a treat,” Perry said. “That’s all I tried to do this week was to play well enough to get to the weekend.”
Perry figured the cut would be around even par, and he was thankful to finish on No. 9 in his second round. The par-5 18th is an easier hole — but not to Perry.
He made bogey on the 18th hole in regulation and in a playoff to lose the 1996 PGA Championship.
Perry won last week in Minnesota for his second Champions Tour victory of the year and seventh overall on the 50-and-over tour. He won 14 times on the PGA Tour.
Ben Crane (back) withdrew before teeing off. Others dropping out were It was the second straight tournament in which Crane withdrew because of his back, which has troubled him for much of his career.Once the second round began, he had company.Kiradech Aphibarnrat (knee), Boo Weekley (shoulder) and Angel Cabrera (shoulder).
5 over through eight holes when he withdrew because of a knee injury. Boo Weekley stopped after eight holes with a shoulder injury. He was 1 over for his round, and 10 over for his tournament.
Angel Cabrera also cited a shoulder injury when he withdrew. The two-time major champion, who opened with an 82, already was 4 over through 12 holes.
Playing it as it lies
The second round began in the rain, which fell so hard that play was halted for nearly an hour. Workers used squeegees to remove water from fairways and greens. It was a soggy mess. And the PGA of America never considered playing lift, clean and place.
Championship director Kerry Haigh can’t recall the PGA Championship ever using preferred lies, and he didn’t think it was necessary.
“We are playing the ball down,” Haigh said. “Once we start the round, we will not change. Really, there was no consideration to that. The fairways are good. And the Rules of Golf allow for relief if the ball is in casual water.”
There wasn’t a loud chorus of complaints about the move. Most players expected it.
That doesn’t mean they all agreed.
“Surprised,” Henrik Stenson said. “I’ve played a few of these before. That never seems to be the most favorable decision to play (ball) in hand. I definitely think we should have played the ball up today. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m the only one thinking that.”
Steve Stricker said if this had been a PGA Tour event, it would have been lift, clean and place. But it’s not.
“I heard that no major has ever played the ball up. So that kind of makes their decision easy, and there’s no sense getting bent out of shape about it,” Stricker said. “You know what you have to do and you know what the conditions are going to be like. So you just put your head down and plow forward.”
Perhaps a bigger concern was the delay. Players were told to stay in position, meaning they were on the golf course for nearly an hour before hitting the next shot.