The adopted favorite son of Illinois, Steve Stricker, finished a spine chilling roller coaster ride to this third John Deere Classic win in a row on Sunday. After shooting 64-63 on Friday and Saturday he built himself a five-shot lead going into the back nine on Sunday. But the sterling play of tour rookie Kyle Stanley and two bogies by Stricker on 15 and 16 left him two back and put a three-peat win at the Deere in jeopardy.
But this is Illinois and this is Steve Stricker. If there has ever been lightning in a bottle on the PGA Tour this is the guy and this is the place. He birdied 17 and then made a Tiger-esque birdie from the fairway bunker on 18 that will become a thing of lore.
His drive on 18 into the left fairway bunker left him with a lie only a chiropractor could love-one foot in-one foot out hanging lie below his feet. 185 to a back pin full carry over the water-only about six things could go wrong on this shot. But as this video will attest, Stricker hit it flush barely dislodging a grain of sand. He then did what Steve Stricker does, showing nerves of steel he rolled in a 25 footer from just off the back of the green to reach 22 under and steal his third Lawn Mower Trophy in three years and $810,000 in lawn service fees to boot.
This is Stricker’s 11th career win, his third year in a row with at least two PGA wins. With his 8th win since he turned 40 he is doing his best Vijay impression but with a real putting stroke.
Stricker joins a fairly heady group of guys who have won the same event on the PGA Tour three times in a row-it includes Tiger, Arnie, Jack, The Hawk, Young Tom, and The Desert Rat. NIce company, eh?
Little doubt who will be the hometown favorite when the Ryder Cup comes to Medinah in 2012.