Golf

Stricker wins Deere Classic

2011-07-11 06:38
Steve Stricker (AP)

Illinois - Steve Stricker sank a 25-foot putt from the fringe of the 18th green Sunday to win the John Deere Classic for the third straight year.

The putt capped a roller coaster afternoon for Stricker, who led by five strokes when he made the turn, fell behind rookie Kyle Stanley by two shots on the back nine, then birdied the final two holes to close with a 2-under 69.

Stricker became just the 10th different golfer since World War II to win a PGA tournament three straight times. He finished at 22-under 262 to beat Stanley by one stroke.

Matt McQuillan, who had missed the cut in his previous 10 tournaments, shot a 64 to finish equal third with Zach Johnson (65) at 17 under. Charles Howell III (64) and Chez Reavie (72) were another stroke back.

Stanley kept the lead by salvaging par on 17 after sending his tee shot into a grove of trees, but he missed a 9-foot par putt on 18 to open the door for Stricker, who took advantage.

Stricker had fallen two off the lead with bogeys on 15 and 16 that seemingly ended his hopes of a three-peat.

But he regrouped quickly. Stricker knocked in a 15-foot putt for birdie on 17 to cut Stanley's lead to one stroke, then made what turned out to be a tournament-saving shot from a bunker on the left side of the fairway.

Standing with his left foot in the bunker and his right foot on the lip, Stricker hit the ball solidly and left it on the fringe of the green behind the pin, drawing a huge roar from the crowd.

The next roar was even louder. Using his putter, Stricker sent the ball toward the cup and watched it curl in from the left side. He backed away as the ball neared the hole, then raised his arms and pumped his fist to celebrate the moment.

With the victory, Stricker joined a select group of golfers who have won a tournament three years running. The list reads like a Who's Who of the game and includes Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Ben Hogan and Johnny Miller.

Woods has done it six times and Palmer twice.

Woods also is one of just four golfers who has won a tournament four straight years. The way Stricker has mastered the TPC Deere Run course, you can't discount his chances of joining that group, too.

Stricker finished 26 under at last year's tournament and was 20 under in his 2009 victory.

Stanley, 23, had a nice consolation prize, earning the spot in the British Open that goes to the highest finisher in this tournament who's not already qualified. But if it hadn't been for Stricker's late heroics, Stanley would have had his first victory on the tour.

FINAL ROUND LEADING SCORES

262 - Steve Stricker (U.S.) 66 64 63 69

263 - Kyle Stanley (U.S.) 65 67 65 66

267 - Matt McQuillan (Canada) 64 69 70 64, Zach Johnson (U.S.) 66 69 67 65

268 - Charles Howell III (U.S.) 66 68 70 64, Chez Reavie (U.S.) 66 62 68 72

269 - Cameron Percy (Australia) 66 67 67 69, Brendon De Jonge (Zimbabwe) 66 66 63 74

270 - Briny Baird (U.S.) 68 70 68 64, Brian Gay (U.S.) 68 67 69 66, Cameron Tringale (U.S.) 70 66 65 69

271 - Kang Sung-Hoon (South Korea) 72 65 68 66, Michael Putnam (U.S.) 70 68 67 66, Kris Blanks (U.S.) 63 71 70 67, Michael Thompson (U.S.) 71 66 67 67, Davis Love III (U.S.) 64 70 69 68, Aron Price (Australia) 69 66 67 69

272 - Arjun Atwal (India) 67 66 70 69, Marco Dawson (U.S.) 68 69 66 69, Charles Warren (U.S.) 67 68 67 70, Dean Wilson (U.S.) 69 65 67 71

273 - Chris Kirk (U.S.) 68 69 70 66, Kirk Triplett (U.S.) 68 65 73 67, Andres Gonzales (U.S.) 68 68 69 68, Brett Wetterich (U.S.) 69 68 67 69, Michael Letzig (U.S.) 70 65 68 70, Scott Stallings (U.S.) 69 66 68 70, Todd Hamilton (U.S.) 70 66 67 70,David Mathis (U.S.) 68 65 69 71

274 - Tim Petrovic (U.S.) 69 69 69 6, Jason Bohn (U.S.) 72 66 68 68, Troy Merritt (U.S.) 68 68 69 69,Chris Couch (U.S.) 70 65 69 70, Bryce Molder (U.S.) 71 66 67 70, Woody Austin (U.S.) 69 67 67 71, Will MacKenzie (U.S.) 67 70 66 71, Mark Wilson (U.S.) 65 67 68 74

275 - Steven Bowditch (Australia) 67 68 72 68, Kent Jones (U.S.) 70 68 69 68, Heath Slocum (U.S.) 70 66 70 69, Ben Martin (U.S.) 67 70 68 70, Jim Herman (U.S.) 66 68 70 71, D.A. Points (U.S.) 66 68 70 71, Shane Bertsch (U.S.) 71 66 67 71

276 - D.J. Trahan (U.S.) 67 70 74 65, Alex Prugh (U.S.) 69 68 72 6, Rod Pampling (Australia) 69 69 70 68, Frank Lickliter II (U.S.) 68 70 69 69, Josh Teater (U.S.) 66 70 70 70, Scott Piercy (U.S.) 70 67 69 70, Craig Bowden (U.S.) 67 70 69 70, John Mallinger (U.S.) 68 65 70 73, Lee Janzen (U.S.) 66 68 69 73, Cameron Beckman (U.S.) 66 69 68 73, Brian Davis (Britain) 70 66 67 73

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