Stricker hangs on to win Memorial

Steve Stricker holds the trophy after winning the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf...

Steve Stricker holds the trophy after winning the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, June 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Jay LaPrete)

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, Last Updated: 10:03 PM ET

Steve Stricker returned from a long weather delay on Sunday to bogey two of the last four holes, but he did enough on the front nine to carry him to victory at The Memorial Tournament.

Stricker, despite a bogey on No. 18, closed with a four-under 68 to win by one stroke over fellow Americans Matt Kuchar and Brandt Jobe.

The 44-year-old Stricker finished his 10th PGA Tour title at 16-under-par 272. The victory will take Stricker to a career-best world ranking of No. 4.

"It was a little bit of a struggle since we came out from the rain delay, and you know, at the point I'm just trying to not make a mistake," Stricker said in a television interview. "I had a couple opportunities early on, and I wish those putts would have gone in.

"It would have freed me up a little bit. But I hung tough and hit a couple tough putts when I had to."

Stricker played the front nine at minus-20 for the week, while going plus-four in the back nine.

For his career, that is opposite of how Stricker normally played Muirfield Village. Entering the week, he was plus-eight on the front nine and minus-16 on the back nine in 11 previous starts at this event.

Kuchar and Jobe both fired seven-under 65s to share second at minus-15.

Dustin Johnson also closed with a 65 to take fourth at 12-under-par 276.

There was a 2 1/2-hour weather delay in the final round just after Stricker had teed off on the par-four 13th.

Prior to the weather delay, Stricker was on fire. After sinking a nine-foot birdie effort on the first, he made it two in a row with a 10-footer on No. 2.

After a pair of pars, Stricker converted another nine-footer for birdie at the fifth.

Stricker extended his two-stroke lead to five with three straight birdies from the seventh. That gave him a six-under 30 on the front nine, which was one shot off the tournament record of 29.

Around the turn, the well dried up for Stricker. He parred the first three holes, then found the fairway off the 13th tee. Seconds later, the horns blew to bring players off the course with dangerous weather in the area.

Little rain actually fell on the course, but lightning kept players in the clubhouse.

Once they returned, Stricker parred 13 and 14 to give him five straight pars. He pulled his drive into a hazard on the 15th, leading to a bogey, which dropped his lead to three shots.

On the par-three 16th and par-four 17th, Stricker saved par on both holes despite facing difficult greenside bunker shots, but his lead was down to two.

At the last, Stricker needed no worse than bogey for the win. He drove into a fairway bunker, then came up short with his approach. Stricker pitched to 15 feet, but left his par putt a foot short. He kicked in the bogey putt for the win.

"I don't know what was going on on the front nine. What did I shoot on that front nine, 20-under for the week? But I needed them all the way I played that back nine," Stricker said. "It was a tough finish. After that rain delay, I played pretty tentatively at times, and I felt like I was just trying to hang on and get it in the house.

"It's a tough way to play, but I made a couple great putts coming in and was fortunate enough to get the win."

Kuchar, who played alongside Jobe, birdied five of six holes from the third to go with birdies on the 11th and 14th. He parred the last four holes to close out a bogey-free 65.

Jobe birdied the fourth and fifth, then poured in five consecutive birdie tries from the seventh to jump to 15-under. After a bogey on 15, Jobe birdied the last to share second.

"We had such a nice rhythm going out today, exchanging birdies and we were having a good time out there, and then to have to stop and go back out there and re-set, we were both a little slow there, no doubt about it," said Jobe in a television interview.

NOTES: Stricker earned $1,116,000 for the victory...Prior to this week, Stricker had played this tournament 11 times and had never posted a top-10 finish, which was the most starts without a top-10 for Stricker at any PGA Tour event...Stricker posted four rounds in the 60s and was the first to do so since Bart Bryant did it en route to winning the title in 2005...It was just the ninth time a player had four rounds in the 60s in tournament history...On Monday, Jobe is one of many players headed to a U.S. Open qualifier...The tour heads to Memphis next week for the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where Lee Westwood will defend his title in the final tune-up for the U.S. Open.

 


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