Stricker works hard for 3rd straight John Deere title|
Silvis, IL (Sports Network) - Steve Stricker rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt
from off the green at the 18th hole Sunday to earn his third consecutive
victory at the John Deere Classic.
Stricker actually birdied his last two holes and benefited from a Kyle
Stanley bogey at the last.
After the Stanley hiccup at 18, Stricker was tied for the lead, but had an
awkward stance in a fairway bunker. He hit a spectacular approach over
water, from the sand, that just rolled off the putting surface.
Stricker walked up and holed the putt for his third straight John Deere title,
his second win this year to go along with the Memorial and his 11th PGA Tour
"Believe it or not, I was thinking three, that's why I went back to six-iron,"
Stricker said on television. "I got a good stance. I really thought I could
pull that shot off. To make that putt is a bonus obviously, but what a day."
Normally calm and stoic, Stricker let out a massive roar and big fist pump
after the winning putt fell. He grew up in Wisconsin and attended the
University of Illinois, so this son of the Midwest is a crowd favorite.
Now Stricker is off to Royal St. George's for next week's British Open
Championship. At 44, Stricker is still majorless, but with this win on Sunday,
he joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and others as
players to win the same PGA Tour event three years in a row.
Stricker finished with a two-under 69 and won the tournament at 22-under 262.
Stanley's bogey at the last was a tough one to swallow. His nine-foot par putt
lipped out of the hole and the bogey was the one stroke that separated the
Stanley rode a hot putter on the back nine to a five-under 66. He came in
second at minus-21 and it was the best finish to date for the PGA Tour rookie.
Former Masters champion Zach Johnson (65) and Matt McQuillan (64) shared third
at 17-under 267.
Stricker began the final round with a two-shot lead and any thoughts of an 18-
hole coronation were quickly dismissed. He birdied one, but double-bogeyed the
fifth when he left one in the bunker.
But Stricker atoned for the error at five in a big way. He sank a six-foot
birdie putt at six, a shorter one for birdie at eight and a 50-footer for
birdie at the ninth. Stricker was five shots clear, but things were about to
Stanley birdied the par-five 10th and the 12th to trim the gap. He rolled in a
26-foot birdie putt at 13 and a 17-footer at 14 and all of a sudden, Stanley
trailed by only one.
At the 15th, Stanley sank yet another long birdie putt, this time from 36
feet. That tied him for first with Stricker, but Stricker drove into the left
rough one group later and was forced to pitch back to the fairway. Stricker
made bogey and what was a five-shot lead six holes prior, was now a one-stroke
The par-three 16th looked like it might be another swing hole. Stanley stiffed
his tee ball to eight feet, but his putt never moved from its line right of
the cup. He settled for par, but Stricker landed in a bunker at 16 and made
bogey to fall two back with two to play.
Stanley hit a terrible drive into a right hazard at the par-five 17th, but
saved par. Stricker missed the green in two and hit a clunky pitch 15 feet
from the hole. Stricker, always considered one of the game's best putters,
drained the birdie to get within one.
"I had a good feeling on that putt," Stricker said in a televised interview.
"I've had that putt before."
Stanley hit an iron off the 18th tee, but still couldn't stop it from finding
the tall grass on the right. He hit a good enough second over a tree into a
bunker, then blasted out to nine feet. Stanley hit what appeared to be a good
putt, but the ball caught the left lip and stayed above ground.
The bogey tied the two, then Stricker hit the eye-opening six-iron with the
ball well below his feet, in a bunker and over water to 25 feet.
"I don't know how to explain that," Stricker said. "Kyle made some birdies
there on the back and I wasn't hitting it close enough and giving myself
"I feel bad for Kyle."
So did Stanley, albeit briefly.
"It's tough, but I'm happy," Stanley said on television. "I'm getting better
and that's the most important thing. It always hurts bogeying the last, but I
did a lot of really, really good things this week."
Charles Howell III (64) and second-round leader Chez Reavie (72) shared fifth
at minus-16, while Cameron Percy (69) and Brendon de Jonge (74) tied for
seventh at 14-under 270.
NOTES: Stricker pocketed $810,000 for the win and moved to second on the
FedExCup points list...He became the fourth multiple winner this season on
tour...The consolation prize for Stanley, he gained a spot in the field for
the British Open as the top finisher not already qualified...Next week is the
British Open, which Louis Oosthuizen won last year, and the Viking Classic,
which was captured by Bill Haas in 2010.
07/10 19:11:42 ET