Steve Stricker holds the lead at Bridgestone Senior Players Championship

Steve Stricker leads by four shots going into the final round of the Senior Players Championship; a solid 68 from Jerry Kelly propels him to the second spot.

Steve Stricker had an eight-shot lead at one point during the third round. - AP (FILE)

Steve Stricker appeared ready to turn the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship into a rout on Saturday, taking his five-shot lead to the first tee and extending it to eight with three consecutive birdies.

But consistent mistakes over the final 15 holes - coupled with a solid 68 from Jerry Kelly - left Stricker with plenty of work to do on Sunday as the lead stands at four shots.

"Had an opportunity to kind of really distance myself," Stricker said following his round on Saturday, "and that was the plan today is to get out, get going and be aggressive and make some birdies and get out ahead, but kind of got side-tracked there in the middle."

Stricker bogeyed No. 4 but still went out in 33.


That's when the trouble started, as Stricker played the next six holes in 5-over. He three-putted the 10th for a bogey, double-bogeyed 12 and stumbled to back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15. After a birdie on the par-5 16th, Stricker finished his 2-over 72 with a pair of pars and stands at 7-under 203 for the tournament.

Kelly, meanwhile, bogeyed No. 1 but patiently worked his way back, recording three birdies and 14 pars to grab second place by himself.

It proved a dramatic turnaround, given that Kelly found himself behind Stricker by as many as 10 shots earlier in the day.

"I like where I stand now more than three hours ago," Kelly said.

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Ken Duke, whose 70 has him one shot back of Kelly, had two birdies and two bogeys on the day.


David Toms (66) rode a strong third round all the way to a fourth-place tie with Jim Furyk and Ernie Els, both of whom recorded 71s.

Stricker, who will serve as Ryder Cup captain in September, held the largest two-round lead in the Bridgestone tournament's history.

"I had a five-shot lead starting the day, I've got four now, so all in all I didn't give away too many," Stricker said, adding that he's looking forward to playing the final round with Kelly.

"Yeah, it will be fun. We've played a lot of golf together, but tomorrow we're going to be trying to win so it will be probably a little more serious than what we typically are out and playing with. It will be fun."

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