Feb 23, 201203:59 PMRick Pledl

Happy birthday, Steve

Madison resident Steve Stricker gave himself a nice little birthday present at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., on Thursday. Stricker turned 45 and knocked off Louis Oosthuizen in a second-round match.

Stricker defeated Oosthuizen, 1-up, to reach the round of 16. The tournament runs through Sunday, when the semifinal and championship matches will be held.

Oosthuizen took a 2-up lead through seven holes before Stricker came back, winning the eighth, 11th and 12th holes. Stricker won the 18th hole with a birdie to decide the match.

Yesterday, Stricker defeated Kevin Na, 2 and 1, in the first round.

Mark Wilson, a native of Menomonee Falls who now lives near Chicago, is also still alive at the Accenture Match Play. Wilson beat Robert Rock, 3 and 2, today, and defeated Bo Van Pelt by the same score yesterday.

Stricker, who won this event in 2000, entered the tournament as a No. 2 seed. Wilson is a No. 10 seed.

Stricker’s next foe is his former Ryder Cup teammate Hunter Mahan, who is a seeded sixth. Their match goes off Friday at 9:51 a.m. Wisconsin time.

Wilson will meet Dustin Johnson in a third-round match Friday at 10:27 a.m. Johnson (No. 3) is seeded higher than Wilson, but Wilson beat Johnson in the first round here last year in 19 holes.

In an interview this afternoon, Mahan extended a nice birthday wish to his future foe, describing Stricker as “just a normal guy who plays golf for a living.” That’s a fitting description for Stricker, a guy who has always been a fantastic ambassador for Wisconsin and truly exemplifies the spirit of small town America.

Stricker was born in Edgerton on Feb. 23, 1967.

You have to like the chances of both Stricker and Wilson this weekend since they’ve both already won PGA Tour events in 2012, and both are accomplished match play competitors.

Could be an exciting weekend for Wisconsin golf fans.

On the couch.

In front of the television.

While the snow falls.

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About This Blog

Editor Rick Pledl joined Killarney Golf Media in 1995. A longtime member of the Golf Writer’s Association of America, Pledl is also an award-winning outdoor writer. He previously worked as a freelance journalist and as a reporter at various daily and weekly newspapers in Wisconsin. Email him at rpledl@wisgolfer.com.

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