Stricker hangs on to win at Riviera|
Pacific Palisades, CA (Sports Network) - After entering the final round with a
six-stroke lead, Steve Stricker managed a one-under 70 Sunday to win the
Northern Trust Open by two strokes.
Stricker, who had led by seven late in the third round, which was completed
earlier Sunday, completed his eighth PGA Tour title at 16-under-par 268.
With the victory, Stricker moved past Phil Mickelson to become the No. 2
ranked player in the world rankings.
"It feels great. I remember where I was and where I am now, you know, it
doesn't get any better," said Stricker, who collected $1,152,000 for the
victory. "That was hard today. I aged a lot out there today. It was a grind
from the get go."
Luke Donald twice got within two of Stricker's lead, but could not get any
closer. The Englishman closed with a five-under 66 at Riviera Country Club to
take second at minus-14.
J.B. Holmes (67) and first-round leader Dustin Johnson (66) shared third place
at 13-under-par 271.
Mickelson entered as the two-time defending champion, but never threaten on
the weekend. He closed with a two-over 73 to share 45th at two-under-par 282.
Twelve players finished their third round earlier Sunday. Friday's second
round was pushed into Saturday by rain causing the delay in the middle rounds.
Stricker parred the first three holes before missing the green on the par-
three fourth. That led to a bogey dropping Stricker to 14-under. He led by
three, but Donald was making a charge.
Donald got off to a fast start with birdies on one and three. He poured in a
six-foot birdie try on the fifth to get within two at 12-under.
However, Stricker made a run in the middle of the round that gave him a four-
stroke cushion. At the eighth, Stricker rolled in a birdie effort from five
feet and made it two in a row with a nine-footer on the ninth.
Stricker moved to 17-under with a birdie putt from just inside 13 feet on the
par-five 11th. Donald also birdied the 11th and was four back.
Both Stricker and Donald faltered to bogeys on the par-four 12th. Donald got
back within three with a four-foot birdie putt on the 13th. The Englishman
narrowed the gap to two with a short birdie putt on 17.
Stricker scrambled down the stretch as he missed two of five greens between 13
and 17, but got up and down for par both times. The other three holes he two-
putted for par to maintain his lead.
At the last, Donald had a birdie effort from 31 feet, but came up short.
Stricker had three putts for the win, but took just two as he two-putted for
par for the third straight hole to seal the victory.
"I didn't make birdie on No. 1 and made bogey on No. 4 and kind of let some
other players into the tournament," Stricker said. "I knew it was going to be
tough today. I am not too familiar with having a six-shot lead too many times,
so I knew it was going to be hard. I just tried to grind it out.
"I didn't hit it the greatest, but at times my short game saved me and my
putting saved me a few times too."
Donald was denied his first win since the 2006 Honda Classic.
"I tried to keep making good swings and give myself birdie chances. Obviously,
I missed a couple of chances on six and seven, but I can't really complain,"
Donald said. "I hit a lot of quality shots and made Steve think about it a
little. There is no one more annoyed. I haven't been in the winner's circle
coming up on four years now. I feel like I am good enough to be there."
Paul Goydos (65), Steve Marino (68), George McNeill (69) and Andres Romero
(70) shared fifth place at 10-under-par 274. Ricky Barnes was one stroke back
at minus-nine after closing with back-to-back 69s.
NOTES: Goydos led a list of five players, that also included Jason Bohn, Marc
Leishman, Webb Simpson and K.J. Choi, to shoot 65 in the final round...Johnson
will defend his title next week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
02/07 18:59:04 ET