Steve Stricker opens 5-shot lead at Senior Players Championship

AKRON, Ohio -- Steve Stricker increased his lead to 5 strokes Friday in the Senior Players Championship, following an opening 7-under 63 with a 68 at breezy Firestone.

The 54-year-old U.S. Ryder Cup captain had a 9-under 131 total on the difficult South Course, playing bogey-free for the first two rounds.

"It was a little bit more of a grind today," Stricker said. "I didn't make a bogey, but I made a couple good saves for pars that kept the round going. Only two birdies. I didn't really capitalize on a couple of the good shots that I hit in there today."

The tournament is the third of the five majors on the PGA Tour Champions schedule. Stricker has six senior victories -- two of them major championships -- after winning 12 times on the PGA Tour.

"Just got to continue to do the same things," Stricker said. "Get aggressive when I can and play smart like I've been doing and just try to do the same things that I've been doing these first couple of days."

Paul Broadhurst was second at 4 under after a 69. The 55-year-old Englishman has five Champions wins -- two of them majors -- after winning six times on the European Tour.

"I think it's a case of him [Stricker] having to come back to the field rather than us catching him," Broadhurst said. "You're not going to hit every fairway, you're not going to hit every green, so a couple rounds under par made me happy."

Marco Dawson (69) and Ken Duke (71) were 2 under.

Defending champion Jerry Kelly (70) was 1 under with Jim Furyk (68), Ernie Els (67), Jose María Olazabal (69), Paul Goydos (69) and Kevin Sutherland (69). Kelly is coming off a victory two weeks ago in the American Family Insurance Championship in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.

Stricker birdied the par-4 10th and par-5 16th.

"It's just a tough test," Stricker said. "The wind is up, so I think we got like, I don't know, 15, 16 holes either downwind or into the wind, and then there's just a couple that are crosswinds. It's a tough test. And the pin locations are tough if you don't drive it in the fairway. I felt like I was living in that first cut today, which is hard to control the ball coming out of that first cut."