Stricker wins at Riviera, goes to No. 2 in world

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Steve Stricker won the Northern Trust Open for his fourth victory since May to move to No. 2 in the world ranking on Sunday.

Updated: February 08, 2010 18:44 IST
  • Total Shares

Los Angeles:

Steve Stricker won the Northern Trust Open for his fourth victory since May to move to No. 2 in the world ranking on Sunday.

Starting the final round Sunday with a six-shot lead at Riviera, Stricker never had it easy. He led by only two shots after five holes, and still didn't feel as though he had the tournament wrapped up until he tapped in for a 1-under 70. He finished two ahead of Luke Donald.

Donald had all the momentum on the front nine until missing consecutive putts inside 10 feet. He never got any closer the rest of the day and closed with a 66. Dustin Johnson had a 66 and J.B. Holmes shot 67 to tie for third.

Stricker, the runner-up at Riviera last year, has won four of his last 15 starts and is No. 2 for the second time in his career.

He won for the eighth time in his career, and once again welled up with tears after the victory. This time, all it took was a reminder of where he was four years ago, when he lost his PGA Tour card.

"I remember where I was and where I am now," Stricker said. "It doesn't get any better."

Stricker didn't make it easy on himself, having to grind for pars as Donald kept pouring in birdies. But after Donald missed two short birdie attempts, Stricker fired off two straight birdies to restore a comfortable margin.

He finished at 16-under 268 and earned $1.152 million to go over $25 million for his career.

Donald made birdie on the 17th to again trim the lead to two shots, but that was as close as he ever got. He closed with a 66. Dustin Johnson had a 66 and J.B. Holmes made a late surge for a 67 to tie for third.

"It was hard today," Stricker said. "I aged a lot out there. It was a grind from the get-go."

Phil Mickelson, trying to become the first player to win three straight years at Riviera, had a 73 and finished 14 shots behind.

Even as he left the course Saturday night leading by five shots, Stricker said he expected a long, tough day.

The long day came from having to return in the morning darkness to finish off his third round. With temperatures in the 40s before the sun climbed over Sunset Boulevard, he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 15th, hit 7-iron to 4 feet for birdie on the 16th and led by seven shots until a bogey on the 18th, his first in 32 holes. Stricker completed a 66 for a six-shot lead.

Stricker missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the easy opening hole and looked tight over the next hour as Donald applied enormous pressure. Donald had birdie chances inside 20 feet for the first eight holes, converting three of them. His 6-footer at No. 5 pulled him within two shots, and he followed that with a tee shot to 10 feet on the sixth.

Donald had the momentum. He just never had the lead.

He missed the birdie chance at No. 6, missed another birdie putt from 8 feet on the next hole, and that was his best shot. Stricker birdied the next two holes from inside 10 feet to take a three-shot lead to the back nine.

Stricker still didn't look as good as he did the first three rounds, missing greens to the left. But he had five consecutive one-putt greens and continued to get himself out of minor jams.

Stricker last held the No. 2 ranking in September after winning in Boston _ although he likely still would have to win at three more times to catch Tiger Woods, who is out indefinitely as he tries to save his marriage.

Half of Stricker's eight career victories have come in the last eight months dating to his playoff win at Colonial. He turns 43 later this month, and shows no sign of letting up.

Kevin Na shot a 66 to tie for 10th, enough to get him into the top 64 and qualify for the Match Play Championship in two weeks.

For the latest Sports news , like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and get the NDTV Cricket app for Android or iOS

  • Golf

Leave a comment