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Stricker shoots 69 in final round of PGA Championship

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Alex Miceli/Special to the Gazette
August 11, 2008
— Steve Stricker saved his best golf of the week for the final round of the 90th PGA Championship, but he came up short in his bid to earn a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

His 1-under-par 69 for Sunday’s final round left him in 39th place in the tournament with a 12-over 292 total.


Stricker started Sunday having to complete his third round after a rain delay of more than four hours suspended Saturday’s play. Finishing in the early-morning hours, he played the last three holes at 1 over par, but totaled a 7-over 77 for the round to fall to 61st going into the last 18 holes.


Knowing he had only the Ryder Cup to play for down the stretch, Stricker focused on producing a solid round in hopes of catching Boo Weekley, who was one spot ahead of the Edgerton native in the Ryder standings.


“I talked to Nicky, my wife, this morning and just said if I could shoot something good and move up and see what happens,” Stricker said of his mindset going into the final round. “I thought that maybe I could try to catch Boo.


“He wasn’t that far ahead of me. And he was right ahead of me playing out there.”


At the same time, Stricker was trying to preserve his tenuous Ryder Cup position over J.B. Holmes and Ben Curtis. Both were far back from Stricker’s eighth-place position on the points list. But both also were in the final group in the final round of the PGA Championship, while needing a solid finish to overtake Stricker.


For the first time all week, Stricker started the final round making a birdie on the par-4 10th hole, hitting a 9-iron to within a foot to move to 12 over par. But he couldn’t capitalize on his early success of making the turn at 1 under par for day.


A birdie on the par-5 second hole moved Stricker to 33rd in the tournament, but again he couldn’t make a move. He gave back one shot on the par-4 seventh hole when he hit his tee shot into the rough and couldn’t negotiate a 20-footer for par, eventually leaving him with his 12-over total.


“I actually played really well this afternoon,” Stricker said of his best final round in a PGA Championship since 1996. “I didn’t make any putts whatsoever. So I had a little problem once the greens got a little softer. They put some more water on them Friday night for the third round, and from that point on my speed was not good.”


Stricker’s finish boosted him to 2,721 points, not enough to hold off Curtis, who tied for second in the tournament with Sergio Garcia. That enabled Curtis to leapfrog not only Stricker, but Weekley to finish seventh on the Ryder Cup list with Weekley finishing eighth.


Now in ninth place on the list, Stricker must wait. With four captain’s picks still to be made in three weeks by Captain Paul Azinger, Stricker still can make a case for being a pick. But he’s been there before, and the calls he received were conciliatory and not congratulatory.


“I made the cut at this year’s PGA. In those other phone calls I got, I missed the cut at the PGA and had really no reason for the captain to pick me,” Stricker said of his other realistic opportunities to be on the team.


“I've been playing better of late, starting with the U.S. Open. I played decent there. Top 30, 28th finish there. Top 10 at the British. Here, I kind of salvaged a tournament, so I’ve been playing better lately.”


But is it good enough?


That still is the question to be answered.




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