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January 10 2012

2:36 AM

Stricker’s key hole: 8th

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Steve Stricker said making birdie at the par-3 eighth hole in Monday’s final round was one of the big keys en route to winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

The 203-yard hole had not been kind to Stricker earlier in the tournament.

In the first round, he suffered a double bogey when he found the hazard off the tee and had to take a penalty stroke. In the third round, he three-putted from 59 feet for bogey.

In 72 holes played this week, Stricker had over-par holes just four times. Two of those came at the 8th.

But on Monday, with his five-stroke lead reduced to one shot, Stricker rolled in a birdie putt from inside 24 feet on the 8th hole to pad his lead.

“I felt like things kind of settled down after that,” Stricker said.

Indeed. He also birdied the par-5 ninth and then went bogey free on the back nine of the Plantation Course for the third consecutive round as he cruised to a three-shot win over Martin Laird.

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