Struggling Stricker finally breaks par

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Chris Gay
April 12, 2010
— After a week’s worth of frustration, the world’s No. 2-ranked player closed the Masters Tournament on a high note.

Steve Stricker rode a key three-hole stretch on the back nine Sunday to a final-round 71, his first under-par round this week.

“It was a struggle all week maybe mentally more than anything,” said Stricker, who opened with rounds of 73-73-74. “I wasn’t patient. I was on the edge of everything.

“It’s just a fine line here and I always seemed to be on the wrong side.”

Stricker, who entered with three wins in the past 11 months, was considered a pre-tournament favorite. But the Edgerton native who lives in Madison never got off to a good start, failing to break par on the front nine in each of his four rounds. He especially lost ground on Nos. 3-5, where he posted seven of his 15 bogeys. He had no answer for that three-hole stretch.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t play them well.

“My whole front nine was poor every day. It’s tough to shoot a good score when you make the turn over par. I just never was able to get anything going on the front.”

Stricker stood at 5-over for the tournament until he rolled in a four-foot birdie putt on No. 14. He followed by converting a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th. Stricker then knocked his tee shot to three feet at No. 16, setting up a third consecutive birdie.

After failing to get up and down at the closing hole, Stricker finished at 3-over for the four rounds.

“I hung in there,” he said. “I did some good things. And I did some poor things.”

Stricker is contemplating changing out his irons after a dismal performance from the fairway this week. Despite hitting 77 percent of the fairways, he hit just 43 of 72 greens in regulation (60 percent).

“I’ve been monkeying with some different sets the past year or two,” Stricker said. “Now it may be time to switch it up just to get a different look and a different feel.”

Along with his iron play, Stricker also needed 117 putts to get around this week. In addition, he recorded four three-putt greens, including one in the final round.

“My putting was kind of marginal,” he said. “I didn’t really make a lot of putts.”

Despite not getting on the leader board this week, Stricker said he feels like he can make a run at a green jacket in the future. Though he didn’t finish inside the top 16 for an automatic invitation, Stricker is almost assured a spot in the 2011 Masters because of his world ranking.

“I feel like I can contend here,” he said. “The more times you play, the more you feel comfortable with it.

“The more times you go around here the better. I was just happy I got in a couple of more rounds this weekend. Every day is a learning experience. Hopefully, I’ll get back here and do better next year.”

Stricker will take next week off before returning to action in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

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