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Stricker holds lead at Memorial Tournament; Byrd, Kuchar follow close behind

Steve Stricker has a spot in the final pairing Sunday, after shooting a 3-under-par 69 on Saturday at the Memorial Tournament. Stricker is 12-under-par in the tournament, three strokes ahead of his nearest competitor.

Stricker, looking to capture his 10th PGA Tour victory, said to win the Memorial would rank with some of his greatest wins.

“It’s a great tournament,” Stricker said. “(Jack Nicklaus) is the greatest player of all time, and to win his tournament would be pretty special.”

Paired with Stricker for the final day of play is Jonathan Byrd, who shot a 3-under-par 69 to put himself at 9-under-par for the tournament.

“Anytime you get in the final group on Sunday, you’ve done a great job,” Byrd said. “Today I played well all day.”

Byrd said playing in the final group on a Sunday is a fun environment and that the added attention and pressure help his game.

“I think the hardest environment to play in is when there’s like two people out there,” Byrd said. “When there’s a ton of people you just block everybody out.”

Matt Kuchar will join Brandt Jobe on Sunday as the second-to-last group to tee off. Kuchar finished his day with a 4-under-par 68, putting him four shots off the lead. He said looking at the leaderboard was a little disheartening.

“I was playing some great golf and finally got a chance to look at the leaderboard,” Kuchar said. “Stricker was matching me shot for shot out there.”

Phil Mickelson, who finished the day with an even-par 72, said that, despite being 10 shots off the lead, he is pretty happy with many aspects of his game.

“I’m actually pretty pleased with a lot of areas that I feel like I’ve been doing well,” he said. “But the one area that I’m identifying I’ll spend a little time now on is putting.”

Stricker and Kuchar appeared unstoppable on the front nine on Saturday.

Stricker got off to a strong start with an eagle on the second hole, and another eagle on the fifth hole. He finished the front nine shooting a 5-under-par 31.

“It was a great start,” Stricker said. “Holing one out at the second hole and then making another eagle at No. 5.”

Kuchar also shot a 5-under-par 31 on the front nine, and had seven birdies in nine holes. He said it would be tough for anyone to catch Stricker on Sunday.

“Strick has got it all,” Kuchar said. “It’s going to take a low number for anyone to knock Steve Stricker tomorrow to have a chance.”

Play begins at 8 a.m. Sunday. Stricker and Byrd will tee off at 1:35 p.m. 

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