Stricker starts of the year with a win in Hawaii

By Associated PressJanuary 10, 2012, 9:59 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP)—Steve Stricker had a silver trophy in his hands and awhite-and-purple lei around his neck, a photo opportunity at Kapalua that didn’tseem likely four months ago when he could barely hold onto a golf club.

He withdrew from the BMW Championship outside Chicago because of weakness inhis left arm. It was a nervous time, even when it was diagnosed as a neckinjury. The first doctor he saw recommended surgery, and Stricker nearly wentalong with it.

Stricker decided against surgery, opting for therapy, rest, a series ofmassages and two cortisone shots.

It looks like it was the right choice.

Stricker opened the PGA Tour season with a final round Monday on Maui filledwith more tension that he needed, even if he is used to it by now. Staked to afive-shot advantage at the Tournament of Championship, his lead was down to asingle shot after just six holes.

As he does so many times, though, Stricker’s short game bailed him out. Hebirdied back-to-back holes at the turn to regain control, answered Jonathan Byrd with a wedge into 2 feet for another birdie on the 16th, and wound up with a4-under 69 and a three-shot win for an ideal start to the year.

“It was tough,” said Stricker, who now has won eight times in his last 50tournaments. “I never let up today. It’s always tough trying to win, and it’seven more tough when you have a lead like I did. I’m very proud of what I didtoday.

“And it’s always cool to get a hug from your family walking off at theend.”

That was the best part of the day, seeing 13-year-old Bobbi Maria and5-year-old Isabella greet him on the 18th green. It was the second time he haswon when both his daughters were at the golf course. That never gets old.

Stricker finished at 23-under 269, three shots clear of Martin Laird (67).

The final round came down to those two, along with Byrd and Webb Simpson ,who each closed with a 68. All three of the challengers got to within one shotof Stricker, but not for long.

He has made a habit of losing big leads in the final round, and of holdingon for the win. Stricker is not sure what to make of these dynamics, althoughhe’s glad the outcome has been the same.

Last summer at the John Deere Classic, he lost a five-shot lead on the backnine and had to birdie the final hole for a two-shot swing to beat Kyle Stanley .A month earlier, he had a four-shot lead at the Memorial and hung on to win byone shot.

At Riviera two years ago, his six-shot lead was reduced to two shots afteronly six holes, before he steadied himself to win by two.

So this was nothing new.

“I’ve been there before. It’s not a great feeling, either,” Stricker said.“It’s just the nature of our game. I realize that, and I’ve gone through itbefore. It always seems close, and you always have to perform to get it done.”

The way his left arm felt four months ago outside Chicago had himquestioning whether he could.

Stricker turns 45 next month, and he knows his window is closing even iffully healthy. One doctor told him by having surgery he could be back in timefor the Presidents Cup the week before Thanksgiving in Australia. The moreadvice he sought, the more Stricker realized he would be better off trying totreat it with therapy.

He had a cortisone shot before the Tour Championship. He had another one theweek before Christmas, along with other therapy and a series of massages. Theidea is to manage this injury, and he feels a lot better about that after his12th career win.

Stricker felt stronger than he did last year, and that much was evident.

He played the final round with Byrd, with whom he also was paired during thetournament last year. There were times when Byrd was hitting his 3-wood fartherthan Stricker hit his driver. This year, Stricker was hitting it past Byrd attimes.

As for the chipping and putting? They remain Stricker’s biggest weapons.

“I don’t want to have surgery,” Stricker said. “I don’t think at thispoint I need it. I’m just going to go ahead and try to do this maintenance thatI’ve been doing the last couple of months and see if that’ll remedy the problem.And it’s been better, and my strength is better. I’ve got a couple cortisoneshots I think that have helped quite a bit.

“But from what my physical therapist says, it’s just something that I needbe on top of it all the time. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”

If nothing else, he appears to be on top of his game, especially this earlyin the year.

Stricker hit the ball beautifully all week. The difference was the size ofthe hole: It started to look smaller.

Laird ran off three birdies on the front nine. Simpson made an eagle on thepar-5 fifth. Byrd make three straight putts, one of them for par, as they creptcloser to Stricker.

He was making a mess of a few holes, and a mess of the final round.

Stricker three-putted the fifth hole for par, then played a poor flop shoton the sixth that came up short and led to another bogey. Just like that, hislead was down to one shot.

“You realize you still have a chance,” Laird said.

Just not for long.

Stricker was angry with himself as he stood on the back of the sixth greenas Byrd made a short birdie. He stared at the ground, shaking his head.Perspective soon followed.

“I was kicking myself on the back of that green,” Stricker said. “I hadjust made two dumb plays. I was kind of beating myself up a little bit, notfeeling too good about what had just happened. But then walking down 7, I said,`We’re still all right.’ If I would have told myself early in the week, I have alead going down the seventh hole in the last round, I would take it.

“So I tried … to make myself feel good.”

Birdies helped him feel even better, starting with the 5-iron to 25 feetthat he poured in the cup on the par-3 eighth. Another birdie put his lead backat three shots, and no one got closer than two shots the rest of the way.

Getty Images

Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

Getty Images

Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

Getty Images

McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

Getty Images

Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.