Saturday, July 05, 2008

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Steve Stricker celebrated the Fourth of July with a round of 64 and an invitation to the White House.

Stricker moved into contention at the AT&T National with a flourish Friday. Starting on the back nine, he holed a bunker shot for a birdie at No. 10, then sank putts from 48 and 58 feet for birdies at Nos. 11 and 2. His round included seven birdies and a bogey, moving him from 1 over to 5 under for the tournament.

"I made a couple of bombs, which you have to do to have a round like this," said Stricker, who finished second to K.J. Choi here last year. "I really enjoy this course. It gives you that major-type atmosphere. There's a lot of history here."

Stricker then headed to the showers to prepare for another big event: his first visit inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He was among a group of 14 players invited by President Bush for dinner and fireworks in a twofold celebration. Not only was America having a birthday, but the president's birthday is Sunday.

"I had to look it up online," Stricker said. "I wasn't sure if we were celebrating the Fourth or his birthday. I guess it's both."

Stricker said he didn't know how he ended up on the guest list - here's a hint, Steve: You're the highest rated golfer in the world rankings at the tournament - and he considered flying his family from Wisconsin so they could join him for the special evening. He learned of the invitation when he received a call from the White House itself.

"It was kind of a weird call," Stricker said. "And then you give them all your vital information. It's pretty interesting. Background check."

THE PRESIDENTIAL 14: The full list of players invited to the White House: Fred Funk, Davis Love III, Billy Andrade, Jonathan Byrd, Fred Couples, Rocco Mediate, Lucas Glover, Ben Crane, Jim Furyk, Johnson Wagner, Mike Weir, Brandt Snedeker, Corey Pavin and Stricker.

THE FAMILY WAY: Jeff Overton has golf in his blood. At least he thinks so.

"My mom, she won the nine-hole city tournament back when I was in her stomach," Overton said after his second-round 65 moved him in contention.

He then added: "I think I was in her stomach. We haven't quite been able to do the math on it. I think she shot 50."

SHOT OF THE DAY: Pavin had the first hole-in-one of the tournament, an ace at the 215-yard 10th.

Pavin's shot with his hybrid 3-iron took two big hops and rolled straight into the hole. It was the second hole-in-one in the AT&T National's brief history. Kevin Stadler aced the 13th in the third round of last year's inaugural tournament.

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