Steve Stricker takes Tucson lead in senior debut

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Steve Stricker shot a 10-under 63 in hot conditions Saturday to take a three-stroke lead in the Tucson Conquistadores Classic, putting him in position to win in his PGA Tour Champions debut.

Stricker is trying to become the 19th player to win in their first start on the 50-and-over and first since Miguel Angel Jimenez in the 2014 Greater Gwinnett Championship.

”I felt a little more comfortable today,” Stricker said. ”Still a little nervous, but any time you’re playing well up and up around the lead there’s a little anxious moments here and there, but I’m handling those OK and, hopefully, I can do the same tomorrow and have a good opportunity. But need to play well. Low scores are out there.”

Tom Lehman was second after a 67. First-round leader Fred Couples had a 70 to fall into a tie for third with Kevin Sutherland (65) at 11 under.

A day after birdieing the first three holes, Stricker opened with a tap-in birdie and made an 18-footer for eagle the par-5 second on Omni Tucson National’s Catalina Course. He birdied three of the final four holes to match the tournament record and reach 16-under 130, playing 36 holes without a bogey.

”I wasn’t expecting it again,” Stricker said. ”I got off to a good start yesterday and just was trying to hit good quality shots to start the round and I did, and made a couple of putts. … The trick is to keep that momentum going and I did better job of that today.”

Stricker turned 50 on Feb. 23. The 12-time PGA Tour winner will captain the U.S. Presidents Cup team in September. He missed the cut in last week in the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship and will make his next start in the big tour’s Shell Houston Open.

Bernhard Langer had a 68 to get to 7 under and match Gil Morgan’s tour record for consecutive rounds under par at 31. Morgan set the mark in 2000. Colin Montgomerie has 30 in a row, but he is not playing this week.

Defending champion Woody Austin was 6 under after his second straight 70.

Bob Estes, also making his tour debut, was 2 under after a 74.