NAPLES, Fla. — Steve Stricker is leaving Naples. And he left it Sunday with a win.
Stricker, who bought his Naples house, gained the PGA Tour Champions’ Chubb Classic at Tiburón Golf Golf Club on the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
The 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup captain missed some possibilities to draw back, however knocked it tight on the par-4 sixteenth and made birdie to give himself sufficient room for his sixth Champions Tour victory by a single stroke.
“I could have made it a little easier on myself for sure,” mentioned Stricker, whose spouse Nicki was his caddie. “I knew exactly where I was. I told Nicki when we were going down No. 14, I said, ‘Let’s get two out of these next three, and I hit it in there at Nos. 14 and 15 and missed them both and hit it in there at No. 16, but if I could have made a couple more putts, it would have been a little bit easier.
“But it’s tough to win. It’s tough to win anywhere, and I’m happy to get it done.”
Stricker, 54, has gained six instances in 29 PGA Champions Tour begins, however he’s nonetheless taking part in the common Tour as properly, partly to hold tabs on attainable gamers for this 12 months’s Ryder Cup. He’s made three cuts with one top-10 in eight begins there on the wraparound season.
“It kind of goes week to week,” Stricker mentioned of his decision-making relating to what occasions to play. “I enjoy playing out here. Competition is great. You have to play well to win. But I also still enjoy playing on the regular tour. I’ve had a couple good showings this year so far. If I could get the putter going a little bit, my ball-striking is probably as good as it’s been when I was playing my best out on the regular tour.
“If I can get that putter going, I’ll probably play out on the big tour and see if I can’t make the (FedEx Cup) Playoffs one more time.”
Stricker parred 4 straight holes, together with three-putting for par on the par-5 fifteenth, however recovered on No. 16. Then he put his second shot in a greenside bunker on the par-4 seventeenth, however crafted a delicate shot – together with his left foot out of the bunker – to inside 3 ft for par.
Steve Stricker acknowledges the group after the ultimate spherical of the Chubb Classic at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. (Andrew West/The News-Press)
“I didn’t have much of a stance there – shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” he mentioned. “… Yeah, that was a tough little stance and just hacked it out of there and gave myself a four-footer, which I made nicely for a change.”
On the par-5 18th, Stricker put his second shot within the greenside bunker, however couldn’t rise up and down for birdie, leaving the door open.
Robert Karlsson, who entered the ultimate spherical sharing the lead, and Alex Cejka, who gained the Monday qualifier, each had to eagle No. 18 to drive a playoff. But each missed the inexperienced, and though Karlsson’s pitch and Cejka’s bunker shot have been positive efforts, neither went in. Both birdied to end a stroke behind Stricker.
“Today felt a bit uncomfortable,” Karlsson mentioned. “It’s a long time since I’ve been up there. Yeah, it was nice to be up there. I played really well the last few holes.”
“I saw where he was (at 16 under). I thought, ‘I have to try to give it a go.’ But when it came out a little right, I was like, ugh. You can’t expect to hole it from 40 yards when you missed it from six feet a bunch of times throughout the day. That’s not the problem.”
Cejka was attempting to grow to be the primary Monday qualifier to win on the tour since Doug Barron on the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in 2019. Still, his top-10 end put him robotically into the sphere on the subsequent eligible occasion, the Mitsubishi Championship in Atlanta.
“A couple of little mistakes hurt me, especially early in the round,” he mentioned. “This course can be tricky but I gave it a shot until the end.”
Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer each have been in competition however fell again with poor tee photographs late within the spherical. They tied for sixth at 13 underneath.
Couples, who had a share of the lead going into the ultimate spherical and had gained twice in Naples, had to take an unplayable lie on the par-5 fifteenth and bogeyed. Three-time Naples champion Langer, after simply lacking an eagle putt on that gap, put one within the hazard space on the par-4 sixteenth. He additionally bogeyed to finish his possibilities.
“(Stricker) played extremely solid, never really made a mistake, he just kept the ball in play, hit good shots, and made a couple of good putts but had a couple other chances, too,” Langer mentioned. “He played really, really steady, just the way you’re supposed to play around here. Hit a lot of 3-woods off the tee, but he’s pretty long still, and yeah, gave himself lots of looks and never had any total stress to get up-and-down or anything like that.”
Tim Petrovic, who shot a 7-under 65, and Charles Schwab Cup chief Kevin Sutherland, who shot 6 underneath, each tied for third.
Petrovic birdied No. 18, however Sutherland ended up with a par after arising simply in need of the inexperienced in two.
“I wish I could have made birdie on 18,” Sutherland mentioned. “You never know what’s going to happen. But I just didn’t hit — I hit two poor shots around the green, and that’s the way it goes.”
Stricker was pleased he had his spouse there as his caddie.
“She’s a great calming influence out there,” he mentioned. “She’s very upbeat. She says the right things.”
Especially when at instances a chief’s largest battle is with themselves.
“You’re battling yourself, you’re battling the course and you’re battling the other players,” he mentioned. “As the older we get, you’re battling yourself more than anything at times. That’s what makes it hard, and that’s what makes the game hard.”
Stricker was wanting up on the leaderboard at what everybody was doing the entire means.
“I was watching it all the time,” he mentioned. “I like to know where I’m sitting. I knew who was coming. I saw the look in Bernhard’s eye there for a little while, and I’m like ‘Uh-oh, here he comes.’
“I saw Freddie was only a shot or two back, and Robert Karlsson who I played with (Saturday) who’s really striking it well, and obviously Kevin Sutherland was already in the house already, or on 18.”
In the tip, although, he was wanting down at everybody else.