Stricker wins Cologuard Classic
Claims victory one year after finishing second in Tucson in his PGA TOUR Champions debut
By The Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Steve Stricker finally hit the 18th fairway on Omni Tucson National's Catalina Course. He has his first PGA TOUR Champions victory -- and a conquistador helmet trophy -- to show for it.
"I was glad to finally make par on it and walk away with the helmet," Stricker said.
Stricker came through Sunday in the Cologuard Classic a year after hitting left into the water on 18 to blow a chance for a victory in his PGA TOUR Champions debut, and a day after another 3-wood drive rolled into the water in a closing double bogey.
"I was fighting it," said Stricker, in tears after the victory. "You have those demons in your head and I was fully aware of what I had to do on 18 as I was playing today. I wanted to get enough of a lead where I could do something different out there. It's just a tough driving hole for me and it is for everybody. A couple guys in my group hit it in the water today. If you pull it a little bit you run through the fairway, and if you push it a little bit you hit it in the water. It's a challenging hole and somehow I just guided it out there and got it in the fairway."
The 12-time PGA TOUR winner birdied the par-5 15th and closed with three pars for a 4-under 69, hitting another 3-wood on the par-4 18th. He finished two strokes ahead of fellow Madison, Wisconsin, player Jerry Kelly (65), Gene Sauers (70) and Scott Dunlap (71).
The 51-year-old Stricker finished at 14-under 205 after opening with rounds of 6 and 70.
"I didn't make a bogey today, which I'm really proud of, and made some really good saves to do that. Just hung in there and finished it off. ... It's a relief, to tell you the truth."
Stricker won in his eighth start on PGA TOUR Champions. He has six top three-finishes, tying for second two weeks ago in Florida in the Chubb Classic. He was second in Tucson behind Tom Lehman last year, losing a two-shot lead on the final three holes.
"It all worked out finally. It's been a challenge out here. I put a little extra pressure on myself to try to win. I've been close, let one get away here last year, so it's finally really a nice feeling to finally pull one out."
He was jokingly asked if he planned to wear the shiny conquistador helmet around town when he returns to Madison.
"Geez, I don't know," "Probably not, but I'll cherish it forever. It means a lot. It's my first PGA TOUR Champions win and it was a battle -- and it always is -- and it means a lot."
Bob Estes (69), Olin Browne (69) and Rocco Mediate (72) tied for fifth at 10 under.
Steve Stricker, 66-70-69 – 205 (-14)
• Stricker remained bogey-free throughout the final round and had a total of one eagle, 16 birdies and two double bogeys for the week.
• He earned $255,000 for the victory and moved to No. 2 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
• Stricker is the third player to post their first PGA TOUR Champions victory at the Cologuard Classic, joining Woody Austin (2016) and Marco Dawson (2015). Both players went on to become multiple time winners during their respective winning season.
• Stricker’s two-stroke victory ties the largest in tournament history (Marco Dawson, 2015).
• Since turning 50 on February 23, 2017, all 22 of his rounds on PGA TOUR Champions have been under par.
• Prior to today, Stricker's last official win came at the PGA TOUR’s 2012 Sentry Tournament of Champions (6 years, 1 month and 23 days). Since then, the 12-time PGA TOUR winner has made 87 official starts on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions.
• In his eight starts on PGA TOUR Champions, Stricker now has a total of six top-three finishes.
• 36-hole leader Tommy Tolles had five bogeys in Sunday’s final round and finished the day with a 2-over par 75. The T9 finish and $42,500 check was his best in eight starts on PGA TOUR Champions.
• Entering the final round six shots back, Jerry Kelly had four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and another on No. 17 en route to posting a bogey-free 8-under par 65 on Sunday, the lowest round of the day. It was enough to propel him 21 spots on Sunday and finish T2. Kelly earned a check for $124,666, allowing him to regain the No. 1 spot from David Toms in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
• Rocco Mediate’s T5 finish was his third straight top-10 this season.
• 2016 Cologuard Classic winner Woody Austin’s T9 was the highest finisher amongst the three past champions in the field. Defending champion Tom Lehman finished T24 while 2015 winner Marco Dawson finished T36.
• Billy Mayfair and Kirk Triplett, both T13, were the highest finishers among the eight Arizona residents in the field. Triplett was also the highest of the five past Tucson Open champions competing this week.
• Today’s T54 finish marks the first time Langer has notched back-to-back finishes outside the top-25 since February of 2015. He finished T36 two weeks ago at the Chubb Classic in Naples, Florida.
• For the first time since 2011, Langer has just one top-10 finish in his first four starts of the season – a runner-up at the Boca Raton Championship.
• Langer’s second-round 77 (4-over) was his highest score on PGA TOUR Champions since a final-round 77 (6-over) at the 2014 U.S. Senior Open.
• Stricker’s win marks the eighth straight year that four different players have won each of the four opening events of a PGA TOUR Champions season (Joe Durant, Mark Calcavecchia and Jerry Kelly). It also marks the first time since 2012 that the first four winners in a PGA TOUR Champions season have all been players from the United States (Dan Forsman, Corey Pavin, Kenny Perry, Loren Roberts).
• In his PGA TOUR Champions debut, Len Mattiace finished 69th.
• The Omni Tucson National’s par-4 18th hole averaged the hardest in tournament history and has been the most difficult thus far on PGA TOUR Champions in 2018 with a scoring average of 4.452 (+0.452). Since the tournament began in 2015, the 469-yard, par-4 18th hole has been one of the three toughest closing holes on PGA TOUR Champions. In 2017, it was the third-toughest finishing hole on Tour, playing to a 4.338 scoring average.