Steve Stricker wins in playoff at Colonial

By Associated PressMay 31, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
FORT WORTH, Texas ' Steve Stricker blew a final-round lead right after he took it and gave away another stroke by missing a short par putt down the stretch.
 
Stricker stayed at it, though. A chip-in birdie on 17 helped him get in a three-man playoff. Then, lucky to be playing a second extra hole, he put his approach just 3 feet from the cup and knocked it right in to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
 
Admirable as it may be, the real story Sunday was how Tim Clark blew this tournament.
 
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker collected his fifth PGA Tour title. (Getty Images)
Trying to shed his title as the guy whod won the most money on the PGA Tour without winning an event, Clark wasted a two-shot lead with five holes left. He left short a 9-foot putt that wouldve won it on the final hole, then pulled a 4-footer that wouldve ended the playoff on the first hole. The final kick in the gut came when his approach on the second extra hole hit the pin and rolled more than 20 feet from the cup.
 
I cant take anything positive from today, the 33-year-old South African said. I have a lot of work to do when it comes to closing out golf tournaments.
 
Strickers victory was pure relief, as evidence by his fist pump and choked-up interviews afterward. Its not that he questioned his ability to close out tournaments, he was just ready to win after finishing second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh this year.
 
Now he has five career wins ' and the No. 8 spot in the world ranking.
 
I feel fortunate, Stricker said, wearing the plaid jacket given to all winners at the Colonial Country Club. Ive been on the other end a couple times this year where you feel going to win and end up losing. This feels very good.
 
Stricker, who earned $1,116,000, led after two rounds with a 36-hole tournament record of 126. He moved back ahead with birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 on Sunday, then followed with consecutive bogeys.
 
When he missed a 4-footer on No. 16, Stricker seemed out of contention. His chances looked even worse when he was in fluffy grass behind the 17th green.
 
Then his chip rolled in.
 
You need breaks to win, thats why winning is so special, so hard to do, he said.
 
Steve Marino was the third player in the playoff. He narrowly missed a long birdie putt on the first extra hole, then pretty much took himself out of contention with a wild tee shot on the second extra hole. Colonial wouldve been a sweet place for his debut win considering his mom grew up a few blocks away and was in the gallery with a group of her childhood friends.
 
Obviously its disappointing, Marino said. But Im playing well right now and Im excited about playing golf and feel good about my game.
 
Stricker and Marino shot 68s to match Clark (70) at 17-under 263.
 
Jason Day, a 21-year-old Australian who recently became a Colonial member, shot 69 and finished fourth at 264. He shot 65 in the other three rounds, but started with a bogey and wound up a stroke out of the playoff.
 
Another stroke back was Paul Casey, coming off a prestigious win in Europe that vaulted him to No. 3 in the world ranking. He opened the final round with three straight birdies but couldnt build on it much.
 
Woody Austin (68) and Vijay Singh (69) tied for sixth at 14 under.
 
Clarks foibles on the 18th hole ' in regulation, then in the playoffs ' sent the playoff to No. 17, a hole Stricker already had birdied three times in four rounds.
 
His fourth birdie there was the charm.
 
This is what my whole career has been about up. Ive had to pull myself up when something hasnt gone my way, Stricker said. You have to let it roll off your back.
 
Maybe one day, Clark can. Not now.
 
Not after being tied for the tournament record with five holes to play. Not after being the tournaments most accurate driver to that point and then knocking two tee shots into trouble.
 
Not after all those foul-ups turned 0-for-183 into 0-for-184 and the seventh second-place finish of his career. The last one came last year at this event, when Phil Mickelson made a spectacular shot for birdie on the final hole.
 
Not even being reminded of his valiant final approach could lift his spirits.
 
Bad break or not, the tournament should have ended on the first playoff hole, Clark said. I didnt make a confident stroke and I pulled it.
 
The $545,600 in winnings, which upped his career total to almost $13.3 million, would be a mood-lifter.
 
But considering his unwanted claim to fame, thats both good and bad.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • @kharms27 on Instagram

    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

    @radiosarks on Twitter

    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

    Getty Images

    Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

    “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

    The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

    “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

    But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

    And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

    It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

    That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

    “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

    It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

    McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

    “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

    It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

    “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

    A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

    Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.