By Doug Halberstadt
It’s a three-peat for Steve Stricker. The PGA pro from nearby Stoughton, Wis., sank a 25-foot putt on the 18th green last Sunday, July 10, to win the John Deere Classic for the third straight year and put him in one of golf’s most elite groups.
That putt secured his third-straight win at the TPC Deer Run course, which is only about 200 miles south of his Madison, Wis., home.
Stricker became just the 10th golfer since World War II to win a tournament three straight times. He finished with a 22-under 262 to beat rookie Kyle Stanley by 1 stroke. Stricker finished 26-under at last year’s tournament and was 20-under in his 2009 victory.
The third time was definitely a charm for Stricker. His win this year allowed him to join a very small and elite group of professional golfers who have won a tournament three years running. The list reads like a Who’s Who of the game and includes Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. Woods has done it six times and Palmer twice.
“I kept telling myself that it’s not a big deal, and it really wasn’t — until today,” Stricker said. “That back nine trying to win, it’s just really hard. I don’t know any other way to say it. It’s extremely hard to put it away.
“When you watch guys like Tiger put away all those tournaments, anybody who’s put it away down the stretch, it’s a difficult thing to do,” Stricker continued. “But I’m happy to come out on top. I made a couple of putts when I had to.”
Stricker won for the second time this year and for the 11th time in his career. His other victory this year was at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, during the first week of June. This is also the third year in a row he’s won more than one PGA Tour event in the same season.
Stricker will be back at Deer Run next year to try to make it four in a row. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, I’m going to make sure I’m there as well.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the July 13-19, 2011 issue