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Golf Roundup

Stricker hangs on to win Memorial

Associated Press / June 6, 2011

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Steve Stricker finally found the winning formula at the Memorial.

Stricker, who had never finished in the top 10 in his 11 previous trips to Muirfield Village, built a big lead with more flawless golf on the front nine, then relied on his silky putting stroke for two clutch pars to hang on for a one-shot victory at Dublin, Ohio.

He closed with a 4-under-par 68, lagging from 20 feet for a two-putt bogey on the 18th hole. By then, the hard work was over. Stricker twice saved par from bunkers on the 16th and 17th holes, making putts of 15 feet and 7 feet to go to the last hole with a two-shot lead.

“It wasn’t pretty,’’ Stricker said to tournament host Jack Nicklaus walking off the 18th green.

Matt Kuchar and Brandt Jobe each closed with a 65 to tie for second.

The 44-year-old Stricker moves to No. 4 in the world and becomes the highest-ranked American for the first time in his career. He won for the 10th time in his career, and the seventh time since he turned his game around five years ago.

Dustin Johnson closed with a 65 to finish fourth, followed by Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who had a 68. The biggest consolation prize went to Gary Woodland, who had a 68 to finish alone in sixth. Woodland likely will move to about No. 40 in the world ranking, making him virtually a lock to get into the US Open. He had faced a 36-hole qualifier this morning.

Needing only a bogey to win, Stricker hit into a fairway bunker on the 18th, missed the green to the left and was happy to chip onto the top tier to 20 feet that locked up his first win of the year.

“It was a little bit of a struggle since we came in from the rain delay,’’ he said. “At that point, I was trying not to make a mistake.’’

Stricker finished at 16-under 272 and earned $1,116,000. Almost as sweet as the trophy was getting a handshake and hug from Nicklaus behind the 18th green.

“It’s pretty special walking off,’’ Stricker said. “He’s a friend, and it’s truly an honor.’’

LPGA — Brittany Lincicome made a 4-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Galloway Township, N.J., for her fourth LPGA Tour title and first in two years.

Lincicome’s birdie capped a bogey-free 5-under 66 that gave her a one-shot victory over third-ranked Jiyai Shin and No. 4 Cristie Kerr. It was the long-hitting Lincicome’s first win since the 2009 Kraft Nabisco.

The 25-year-old Lincicome finished the 54-hole tournament on the Bay Course at Seaview with an 11-under 202 total.

European — Unheralded Swede Alexander Noren captured his second European Tour title by winning the Wales Open, shooting a 1-under 70 for a two-stroke victory at Celtic Manor in Newport.

The 127th-ranked Noren finished at 9-under 275. Gregory Bourdy had a bogey-free 67 to finish joint runner-up with Anders Hansen, who had a 71. Elliot Saltman hit a hole-in-one at No. 17 for the second time during the tournament, repeating the ace he made in the first round.

Champions — Bob Gilder rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18, then watched Mark Brooks bogey the hole to escape with a one-stroke victory in the Principal Charity Classic at West Des Moines.

Brooks seemed assured of his first victory in seven starts on the Champions Tour when he led by three strokes with four to play. But he hit into the water on 17 and needed a nifty putt just to make bogey, then three-putted on 18 to hand the title to Gilder, who also won this tournament in 2002.

Nationwide — Steve Wheatcroft ran away with the Melwood Prince George’s County Open, finishing a staggering 29 under for a Nationwide Tour-record 12-stroke victory.

The 33-year-old former Indiana University player eagled the final hole for a 7-under 64 after opening with rounds of 66, 60, and 65 on the University of Maryland Golf Course.

NCAA — Patrick Reed closed out Augusta State’s second straight NCAA golf title, beating Georgia’s Harris English, 2 and 1, in the featured matchup between each team’s top player at Stillwater, Okla.

Reed needed only a double bogey to halve the 17th hole and win the championship after English hit his second shot into a lake left of the green.

Reed, who played for the Bulldogs as a freshman, has helped turn Augusta State into a budding powerhouse, right in the shadows of Augusta National.

The Jaguars, who compete in Division 2 in all sports except golf, also got victories from Mitchell Krywulycz and Carter Newman to win the final match, 3-2.