Steve Stricker wins Kaulig Companies Championship for third senior major title of 2023
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Earns spot in next year's THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass
Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour
Steve Stricker won his third major of 2023 and the seventh of his PGA TOUR Champions career on Sunday at the Kaulig Companies Championship at Firestone Country Club (South) in Akron, Ohio.
Stricker, 56, finished at 11 under, three strokes ahead of David Toms. Harrison Frazar, who entered the final round tied for the lead with Stricker at 7 under, finished tied for third at 7 under, alongside Ernie Els and K.J. Choi.
“It's been fun. I think I get so emotional because we put so much into it,” Stricker said. “This is a special tournament here, gets me in THE PLAYERS Championship next year, which is another goal of mine this year, to get back there and play again.
“Yeah, I'm just having a ball. I'm enjoying the ride and, you know, just hopefully continue. Just trust and believe in what I'm doing.”
Steve Stricker’s interview after winning Kaulig Companies Championship
Frazar, 51, was one stroke back when he and Stricker reached the 223-yard par-3 15th hole, which had yielded only two birdies during the final round. It looked like Frazar was poised to get the third after hitting his tee shot hole-high to about 14 feet.
Stricker was coming off a sloppy bogey at No. 14, missing the green and hitting an uncommonly poor chip shot from a bad lie over the green. He played a safe shot into the 15th green, coming up about 40 feet short.
Then Stricker did what Stricker does. He put a prefect roll on the double-breaking putt, and it gently dropped into the center of the cup. No doubt rattled by what he’d just witnessed, Frazar missed his birdie.
Stricker followed up on the par-5 16th by sticking a third-shot wedge to 2 feet. He birdied, Frazar parred, and the lead was three with two holes to play.
“That putt he made on the par 3, he made about a 40-, 45-footer there, and then that wedge shot he hit on 16 was one of the best wedge shots I've ever seen,” said Frazar, whose T3 was the second-best finish of his Champions Tour career. “That was a one-two punch and the rest of us were out.”
Steve Stricker pours in lengthy birdie putt at Kaulig Co. Championship
Stricker really has learned how to deliver the knockout blow this year.
“Well, I'll tell you what, it's fun getting in contention on a day like today and knowing that you have to do certain things,” Stricker said. “The more times I've been there, the more times I've been able to handle it. And that's been the fun part, that's what keeps me motivated to come out here and continue to play. When I can pull off a putt like I did at 15 and then hit that nice wedge in on 16, that means a lot to me.”
Toms fired a 5-under 65 to climb from seventh into second.
Stricker is the first player to win three majors in a season on PGA TOUR Champions since Bernhard Langer in 2017. The Kaulig marked his fifth victory of 2023, and he padded his lead in the Charles Schwab Cup standings to more than $2 million ahead of Langer. Toms moved into third in the standings, up from sixth.