Steve Stricker sank a 25-foot putt from off the 18th green yesterday to win the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., for the third straight year and put himself in one of golf’s most select groups.
The putt capped a roller coaster afternoon for Stricker, who led by five strokes when he made the turn, fell behind rookie Kyle Stanley by two shots on the back nine, then birdied the final two holes to close with a 2-under-par 69.
“It was an unbelievable week and an unbelievable finish,’’ Stricker said.
Stricker became just the 10th golfer since World War II to win a tournament three straight times. He finished at 22-under-par 262 to beat Stanley by one stroke.
Matt McQuillan, who had missed the cut in his previous 10 tournaments, shot 64 to tie Zach Johnson (65) for third at 17 under. Charles Howell (64) and Chez Reavie (72) were another stroke back.
Stanley kept the lead by salvaging par on 17 after sending his tee shot into a grove of trees, but he missed a 9-foot par putt on 18 to open the door for Stricker, who took advantage.
Stricker joined a small but noteworthy group of golfers who have won a tournament three years running. The list reads like a Who’s Who’s of the game and includes Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Ben Hogan, and Johnny Miller.
European - Luke Donald enjoyed the perfect warm-up for this week’s British Open with a flawless 9-under 63 to win the rain-shortened Scottish Open at Inverness by four strokes, his first victory since becoming the world’s top-ranked player in May.
The 33-year-old Englishman started the third and final round a shot behind a trio of joint leaders but rolled in nine birdies in a majestic bogey-free display at Castle Stuart.
With only a light wind leaving the links course defenseless, Donald romped home with a winning total of 19 under, ahead of Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed (62).
British Open hopefuls Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Mark Tullo of Chile finished in a seven-way tie for third. However, it was the 203d-ranked Jamieson who sank a birdie at the last hole to secure the available qualifying spot for the year’s third major - by virtue of having a higher ranking than Tullo by 29 places.
Colin Montgomerie had also been looking to qualify for his home major for the 22d straight year, but his 70 left him tied for 31st at 10 under.
Second-ranked Lee Westwood shot a closing 68 and was tied for 14th at 12 under, a stroke behind eighth-ranked Matt Kuchar (67). Fellow American Phil Mickelson, ranked No. 6, had a 69 and finished at 7 under.
Champions - Jeff Sluman shot a 2-under 70, holding on to win the First Tee Open in Pebble Beach, Calif., for the third time.
Sluman had five birdies and closed with three straight pars to finish at 10-under 206 and seal his first victory since winning the First Tee in 2009. He also took the title in 2008.
Jay Haas entered with a two-stroke lead, but had a 75 to finish in a three-way tie for second. David Eger (72) and Brad Bryant (73) joined Haas at 208, while local favorite Bobby Clampett (74) ended in a five-way tie for fifth.