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July 16 2012

1:02 AM

Putter problematic for Stricker

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Steve Stricker recorded his fifth top-10 finish of the season on Sunday.
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM Steve Stricker couldn't put his finger on it. Was he trying too hard on the back nine to win for a record-tying fourth straight time at the John Deere Classic? Or was he tiring out after a long week of questions, attention and all of that Stricker Slam talk? Turns out, the problem was something even more unusual -- especially considering the individual. Stricker couldn't catch Troy Matteson and eventual winner Zach Johnson at TPC Deere Run on Sunday in Silvis, Ill., because of his inconsistent putting. "Yeah, it was fun, but I think it's the putter," Stricker said after carding a 1-under 70 to finish tied for fifth, four shots back at 16 under. "I really don't have a ton of confidence with that putter. I wasn't feeling very good about it. That's the thing that you need to have working well to win." Stricker, long considered one of the top putters on the PGA TOUR, was second in the all-important Strokes Gained-Putting statistic last season. This year, he's 76th in that category. For whatever reason, he's struggled -- at least by his standards -- on the greens. On Sunday, Stricker missed a number of putts that would have put him closer to the top. In particular, Stricker singled out a missed 6-footer for par on the 14th and a three-putt bogey on the 15th. "I had a 5- or 6‑footer for par. If I made that, I think it could be a little bit different," Stricker said. "But that deflated me a little bit. If I could have 2‑putted on the next hole, you know, I would have been all right. I still figured we had some birdie holes coming up with 16, 17, and sometimes 18 you can make a birdie. But those couple holes there really kind of took a lot of steam out of me, 14, 15." Stricker still recorded his fifth top 10 of the season. He ranks 16th in FedExCup points and said he enjoyed the pressure of attempting to join Tom Morris, Jr., British Open (1868-70, 1872), Walter Hagen, PGA Championship (1924-27), Gene Sarazen, Miami Open (1926, 1928-30) and Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard (2000-03) and Farmers Insurance Open (2005-08) as the only golfers to win a tournament four times in succession. "You know, a lot of expectations, a lot of things going on here -‑ all good things, don't get me wrong ‑- but it takes a lot out of you, too," Stricker said. "Although I wish I could have been out there in a playoff or tried to have won again, yeah, I'm kind of glad it's over. Hopefully come back next year and start another one."
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