Steve Stricker putts during last weekend’s U.S. Open Championship in Wisconsin.
By BILL BROTHERTON
Steve Stricker and Dave Eichelberger have withdrawn from the 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship at Salem Country Club in Peabody. Stricker cited his playing schedule as the reason, while Eichelberger pulled out because of health reasons.
The championship will be held Thursday, June 29 through Sunday, July 2, at the acclaimed Donald Ross-designed course. Practice rounds will officially begin on Monday, but some players, including Billy Andrade and Rocco Mediate, have already tested out the challenging 6815-yard, par-70 course.
Stricker is coming off a sparkling 3-under final round at the U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills in his native Wisconsin last weekend. He finished tied for 16th place at 5-under for the tournament. Stricker had played his way into the field of last weekend’s Open, shooting 67-65 at the Tennessee sectional qualifier, after the United States Golf Association had rejected his request for a special exemption.
Stricker was fully exempt and was expected to play in his first year of eligibility for the U.S. Senior Open. He will be replaced in the field by Danny Mulhearn of Wheaton, Ill., the first alternate from the Aurora, Ill. sectional qualifying site.
“In looking at my playing schedule and other obligations for the upcoming months, I feel it is best for me to withdraw from the U.S. Senior Open next week,” said Stricker. “With playing both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions this year and the final push I needed to make these last two months to qualify for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, has my mind and body telling me that I need to rest and recharge. This was without a doubt a hard decision, but one that I feel is needed in order for me to get ready for the next stretch of events and to play at the level I expect of myself.”
Mulhearn, 50, shot 71 at Aurora Country Club on June 5. He is playing in his first U.S. Senior Open. Mulhearn is the head golf professional at Glen Oak Country Club, in Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Eichelberger, who won the 1999 U.S. Senior Open Championship, was fully exempt. He will be replaced in the field by amateur Steve Fink, of Las Vegas, Nev., the first alternate from the Murrieta, Calif., sectional qualifying site.
Fink, 60, shot 72 at Bear Creek Golf Club on May 22. He is playing in his first U.S. Senior Open.
Eichelberger, 73, has competed in 23 consecutive U.S. Senior Opens, dating back to 1994. It is the third-longest streak in the history of the championship. Dale Douglass and Arnold Palmer played in 26 and 25 consecutive Senior Opens, respectively. Eichelberger has played in 40 USGA championships, including 14 U.S. Opens.
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