Victory vaults Stricker to No. 2
LOS ANGELES — In a tournament everyone expected him to win, Steve Stricker was trying not to lose.
Instead of firing at flags and trying to make birdies, which allowed him to build a six-shot lead at Riviera, Stricker suddenly found himself playing it safe and trying not to make bogeys. Instead of having a chance to break the 25-year-old tournament scoring record, he feared matching a PGA Tour record for blowing the biggest lead.
The Northern Trust Open ultimately ended yesterday the way everyone thought it would — Stricker in tears after another victory.
"I just knew it was going to be hard," Stricker said after closing with a 1-under 70 for a two-shot victory over Luke Donald. "You're playing a different game than what you normally play. You played scared — at least I did there for a while."
Back-to-back birdies at the turn settled him down. Another clutch putt for par on the 15th hole essentially clinched it.
"My father-in-law always says there's a defining moment when you're going to win a golf tournament," Stricker said. "And I think that was it right there. It allowed me to keep a three-shot lead going into the last three holes."
Stricker won for the fourth time in his last 15 starts, moving up to No. 2 in the world for the second time in his career. It was his eighth career victory, and the eighth time he couldn't make it through his TV interview without wiping tears from his eyes.
Dubai Desert Classic: Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez earned his 16th European tour title, beating England's Lee Westwood with a 4-foot par putt on the third hole of a playoff in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Westwood missed a 5-foot par putt on the hole. Both players closed with even-par 72s to finish at 11-under 277.