VERONA, Wis. — If Steve Stricker or Jerry Kelly are going to win their first tournament in the state of Wisconsin they’ll have to do it from behind.
The two Madison residents both trail leader Steve Flesch after two rounds of the American Family Insurance Championship, with Stricker a shot back at -10 and Kelly two off the lead at -9.
Flesch took sole possession of the lead with a birdie on the 18th hole, as he went 7-under for the day.
“I played very good the last two days actually. Hit a lot of good shots, had a lot of opportunities,” Flesch said. “So two good rounds. And it’s nice because I haven’t played particularly well here in my two previous showings.”
Everyone is chasing Flesch, including three golfers sitting a 10-under. Stricker is one of them after posting back-to-back rounds of 67. The highlight of day two came on the par-5 16th, when a perfect pitch nabbed him an eagle.
“I needed that,” Stricker said. “I’m in position to try to win this tomorrow and that’s a good feeling. There’s a lot of guys bunched up there, though. I imagine somebody’s going to come out of that pack with a good round, shoot a good round tomorrow, and that means that’s what I’m going to have to do if I want to have a chance to win.”
Kelly is also in position to win, though he probably should have been in the -10 grouping. Instead, he missed a short putt on the 17th hole that gave him his first bogey of the tournament.
“I had one bogey today. The problem is I only had three birdies,” Kelly said. “The one bogey is no big deal, but when you put it against three birdies, yeah, then it gets tougher.”
The good news for the two local favorites is that in the first three years of the tournament the person leading entering the final round hasn’t gone on to win it.
“Yeah, I sure hope so, because I’m behind,” Stricker said when asked if he hoped that held this year. “This course lends itself to some exciting finishes, I think. It’s kind of a shootout course. You have to play aggressively, there’s birdies to be made. There’s eagles you can make on some of these par 5s, they’re reachable, so a lot can happen in these closing holes. That’s what makes it exciting and fun to play here.”