On a single Sunday three golfers in various parts of the globe made up for past failures.
There is no better story-line in golf then the grand comeback and the theme was alive today on the PGA Tour, European Tour, and Nationwide Tour.
Nowhere was that more apparent than in Pacific Palisades, California where the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open played out. Steve Stricker (67-65-66-70-268) was reduced to tears as he left the 18th green after securing the victory that had been in his grasp in 2009, but slipped away to the arms of defender Phil Mickelson. Stricker had shot 67 in the final round of 2009 but his two stroke lead on the 71st hole eventually became a one stroke victory for Mickelson after Stricker made a bogey on the final green.
That loss was on Stricker’s mind as he tackled this year’s final stanza at Riviera with a large but sometimes tenuous lead. “I thought about it at times today,” he admitted after the victory. “I think not winning it last year helped me last year, and even this year, I guess, looking back at it I learned from those mistakes I made coming down the stretch last year. You know, you put them in your memory bank, I guess, and you look back at them and make sure that try and not do the same things.”
For stretches during the day Stricker, the new World #2 ranked player, struggled with his swing but he fought through it. Birdies on holes 8,9, and 11 helped him to re-establish a lead that had dwindled with early charges by competitors. Luke Donald (68-70-66-66-270) threw six birdies at Stricker but in the end fell two strokes short to earn second place. Bombers Dustin Johnson and J.B. Holmes shared third place at 271.
Despite he ascension to new heights in the World Rankings Stricker says he will not change his approach to his game. He tried that before…”we all know who the best player in the world is, and I’ll just continue to do what I do, and that’s practice hard and work at it and try to improve. I’m not saying that I’m going to just not try to work at it anymore, but just continue to do the things that I do when I’m trying to — and that’s to try to get better. That’s all I can ask.”
The win today was Stricker’s 8th on TOUR and vaulted him to #1 in the 2010 FedEX Cup Points List. The Wisconsin native and University of Illinois product also cashed a check for $1,152,000. He will not be in the field for the upcoming AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Earlier this morning Jim Herman had a massive triumph of his own as he won the Nationwide Tour’s Moonah Classic in Australia. Heading into the event Herman had missed seven straight cuts dating back to last season and was an unlikely candidate for a win. He shocked the field by opening with a 62 and hung around the top of the leaderboard all week. Ultimately he required a playoff to beat out fellow American Chris Kirk to earn his first Nationwide Tour victory.
Forty-six year old Miguel Angel Jimenez also needed a playoff of his own Sunday to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Jimenez had finished second twice before in the tournament and was clearly relieved to finally get the win, the 16th of his European Tour career. “You know, many years coming here, and a few times with chances to win, and then, we have it here. I’m feel very pleased, very happy,” said the champion. Half of his European Tour victories have come after the age of 40.
Jimenez needed just a par on the third hole of a playoff with Lee Westwood to prevail. Both players had finished regulation play at eleven under par.
Alvaro Quiros looked to have the tournament in hand when he simply required a two-putt on the 13th hole to move to twelve under par. Shockingly he made a par after a three-putt. He required six more putts on the next two holes to fall out of contention.
This report also appears in the News Section at GolfWRX.com