Stricker wins his third PGA Tour Champions major of year with dominant weekend at Firestone
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Steve Stricker won his third PGA Tour Champions major of the year, capping off a dominant weekend at Firestone with a 4-under 66 on Sunday for a three-shot victory in the Kaulig Companies Championship.
Stricker was five shots off the lead after a second-round 73, but closed with rounds of 65-66 for an 11-under 269 total. David Toms shot a final-round 65 to finish alone in second at 8 under.
The 56-year-old Stricker won the Regions Tradition in May, then triumphed two weeks later at the Senior PGA Championship. He has five victories this year on the over-50 tour and a lead of more than $2 million over second-place Bernhard Langer on the Charles Schwab Cup money list.
“It’s fun getting in contention on a day like today and knowing that you have to do certain things. The more times I’ve been there, the more times I’ve been able to handle it,” Stricker said. “And that’s been the fun part, that’s what keeps me motivated to come out here and continue to play.”
The win at Firestone gives Stricker a spot in next year's Players Championship, which he said was one of his goals. This event was previously known as the Senior Players Championship before Kaulig Companies took over as title sponsor.
“I think I get so emotional because we put so much into it,” said Stricker, who choked up during a greenside television interview.
Stricker played his first 13 holes in 3 under before his only bogey of the day on the par-4 14th. But he responded with a lengthy putt for birdie on the par-4 15th and a wedge to 2 feet for birdie on the par-5 16th, giving himself enough of a cushion to enjoy his walk to the 18th green.
Stricker has seven career majors on the PGA Tour Champions, tied with Hale Irwin for fourth all-time. His best finish in a major before turning 50 was a runner-up at the 1998 PGA Championship.
“I won 12 times (on the PGA Tour), but I never got into contention like I’m getting into contention now on the Champions Tour. I have more cracks at it, more times to fail, more times to succeed,” he said.
The final major of the year for the seniors will be the Senior British Open at Royal Porthcawl in Wales in two weeks.
The 65-year-old Langer, who won the U.S. Senior Open two weeks ago to break the PGA Tour Champions career victory record, closed with a 66 to finish alone in sixth, six shots back. Langer, a three-time winner of this event, holds the record for senior major wins with 12.
Harrison Frazar, who was tied with Stricker for the 54-hole lead, shot 70 and tied for third with K.J. Choi (68) and Ernie Els (68).
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