Stricker maintains 5-shot lead at Kapalua

By Doug FergusonJanuary 9, 2012, 3:12 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Steve Stricker reached his boiling point Sunday in the Tournament of Champions when he walked off the 12th tee, his lead down to two shots and his ball in a bunker after he missed a fairway almost as wide as Wisconsin.

As he reached a clump of trees that shielded him from the fans, he thumped his 3-wood on the soft grass.

For the mild Midwesterner, this constitutes a meltdown.

“I was frustrated at that point,” Stricker said.

But he never lost his patience. More importantly, he never lost his lead. Stricker closed with four straight birdies, including a chip-in from short of the 16th green, for a 4-under 69 that restored the five-shot lead he started with in the third round at Kapalua.

It only looked as though nothing had changed.

Defending champion Jonathan Byrd had a 4-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole for a share of the lead. He missed it and had to settle for two more pars and a 67.

Webb Simpson had long birdie putts on the 13th and 14th holes to catch Stricker. He missed both of those and was left in the wake of Stricker’s great finish.

“That was key to finish that way,” Stricker said. “Sets me up for some momentum going into tomorrow. I just kept telling myself that I had the lead still and just to be patient. Things were not really going the way I had hoped, but I just kept telling myself to hang in there.”

Stricker was at 19-under 200, poised to start the new season off with a trophy in his hands and a lei around his neck.

Only two other players have led by as many as five shots through 54 holes at Kapalua – Geoff Ogilvy in 2009 and David Duval in 1999 – and both went on to win handily. Stricker doesn’t expect it to be that easy.

He will play in the final group with Byrd, who overcame back-to-back bogeys early in his round for a 67. Byrd would have taken a spot in the last group at the start of the week. Five shots behind the highest-ranked American in the field?

“He’s a tough guy to catch,” Byrd said. “But I don’t think any lead is too much.”

Martin Laird had a 67 and also was five shots behind at 14-under 205, along with Simpson, who had to settle for a 69.

“I don’t know what it will take, but I’m guessing a minimum of 8 under probably,” Laird said of his chances Monday. “But this is a golf course that you can do it.”

Stricker showed that Saturday when he had a 10-under 63. As uncomfortable as he felt Sunday, such a score looked impossible.

“I wasn’t making any birdies, and it seemed like everybody else was,” Stricker said. “I knew it was going to be tough. When you’re leading a golf tournament, it’s just hard to keep that momentum. When you’re not making birdies, you feel like you’re letting things slip away. I felt everyone was coming after me, and I was coming back to the pack.”

But he owns the closing stretch on the Plantation Course.

With his four straight birdies at the end, Stricker is now 13 under par on the last five holes. This time, he started his birdie run on the par-5 15th with a 3-wood that he had to hit perfectly to get onto the green, and he did just that for a two-putt birdie.

He followed with a chip-in from short of the 16th green – “I stole one there,” Stricker said – then crushed a tee shot and hit 9-iron into about 4 feet on the 17th. With a 406-yard drive on the 18th – down the hill, down the grain, the wind at his back – he came up just short of the green for an easy birdie.

It’s the rest of the day that didn’t feel so easy.

“I didn’t feel comfortable,” Stricker said. “I didn’t hit it bad, but I didn’t feel as aggressive at times. You’re in a position where you don’t want to screw up, but yet you’re on a course that birdies can be made and guys can come from a ways back.”

The more pars Stricker made, the more he let other players back into the hunt.

Stricker began the third round with a five-shot lead over Simpson, and only five players were closer than 10 shots of him.

Byrd, despite consecutive bogeys early in the round that put him nine shots behind, began his rally with an eagle on the fifth hole. Laird made four birdies on the front nine and made the turn in 12 under.

Stricker’s cushion effectively was gone in two holes.

After making a 20-foot birdie putt on the seventh, he ended his streak of 30 holes without a bogey with a three-putt on the eighth, missing badly from just over 3 1/2 feet.

Then on the par-5 ninth, his lob wedge came up woefully short and rolled back down to the fairway. Again, Stricker did well to scramble for par on a birdie hole.

Simpson birdied the eighth for a two-shot swing, then picked up birdies on the 10th and 12th to close within one shot.

But no one ever caught up to Stricker, and he pulled away in the final hour.

Stricker was on the 11th tee when Bryce Molder holed out from 75 yards for eagle on the 14th hole, a cheer that caused the final group to turn and look. That got Molder to within three shots of the lead. He wound up eight shots behind.

“Steve is certainly not one to back off the pedal, so you know there’s not a great chance he’s going to come back to the field a lot,” Molder said. “You’ve got to make some birdies. I saw that through nine, he was just playing OK. And I thought, `OK, well, cool. Now we’re within striking distance.’ But you know, so much can happen in so many holes.”

It happened just in time for Stricker.

Watch live coverage of the final round of the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Golf Channel: Monday, 4-8 PM ET.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm