Steve Stricker Wins Third Consecutive John Deere Classic
It wasn’t exactly how Steve Stricker drew it up but for the third time in as many years he is the John Deere Classic Champion. Stricker shot a final round 69, good enough to squeak out a one stroke victory over Kyle Stanley who held the lead until he made bogey on the final hole.
It looked as though Stricker was going to run away with the victory heading into Sunday. Through three rounds he had made only one bogey and nineteen birdies to maintain the 54 hole lead. It wasn’t until the 5th hole on Sunday, when he made double bogey, that it became a tournament. Stricker followed up his double bogey by making birdie on three of the next four holes to finish out the front nine with a 2-under 33.
The back nine was a different story. A streaking Kyle Stanley and a faltering Steve Stricker made for one of the most memorable finishes on the PGA TOUR this season. Stanley opened the back nine with birdies on five of the first six holes to move to 22-under par and take the lead from Stricker who made back to back bogies on 15 and 16. Just when it looked like Stanley would earn his first PGA TOUR victory, a bogey on the 72nd would drop him to 21-under for the tournament and set the stage for a remarkable finish.
As Stricker lined up his second shot on 18 from a fairway bunker, he could see Stanley make bogey on the final hole and saw an opportunity. After several minutes of debating, Stricker changed clubs and hit a shot out of the bunker clearing the pond in front of the green and landing it just off the back edge. The shot left him a 25 foot putt which he snuck into the left side of the cup for the win.
The win was the second of the season for Stricker who jumped to second place in the FedEx Cup standings. Nick Watney, who earned his second victory of the season last week, is in first. Stricker also remains the highest ranked American golfer in the world at 5th place.
Steve Stricker now heads to England for the British Open. Louis Oosthuizen is the defending champion. The PGA TOUR will host the Viking Classic, Bill Haas is the defending champion.