Stricker no longer feeling stricken

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A double-bogey, bogey finish turned a potential 69 into a one- over-par 72 for the American Steve Stricker at the Open yesterday, but did little to lessen his conviction that he is on the way back.

After two titles and seven top 10 finishes in 1996, Stricker has been far less successful so far in 1997. But a seventh place at last week's Quad City Classic at Coal Valley, Illinois, convinced him he was now returning to form.

"My problem was that I was trying to get used to some new equipment," Stricker said after his opening round. "I then had a loss of confidence but now it's coming around. I'm driving a lot better and my confidence is up again.

"After that it was disappointing to finish that way, considering I played pretty good throughout the rest of the round. To finish three over on the last two holes kind of hurts a little."