Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stricker fails to win his 4th consecutive John Deere Classic

The two native sons of the John Deere Classic are Golfing Jesus aka Zach Johnson and Midwestern Cougar aka Steve Stricker.  Both native sons played a big role in the 2012 John Deere Classic.

Over the last three years Stricker made almost $2.5 million just at the John Deere Classic played at the TPC Deere Run thanks to winning the tournament in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  This year the course measured 7,258-yards, played as a par-71, had a course rating of 75.6, and a slope rating of 145.

Two-peat's at the same tournament in consecutive years are not that uncommon on the PGA Tour but three-peat's are quite rare. Stricker's win last year at the John Deere Classic made him one of only 17 people in PGA Tour history to win the same event three consecutive times.

Stricker started his four-peat bid at the 2012 John Deere Classic with a 65 (6-under-par) thanks in large part to an eagle on the par-four 14th hole.  Stricker carded the eagle in a non-traditional fashion chipping in from 80-yards with a wedge en route to shooting a 6-under 30 on the back nine.

Stricker didn't shoot as well on Friday carding a 67 (4-under-par) to put him in a tie for 8th, which marked the worst position Stricker held going into the weekend (2nd in 2009, 1st in 2010, and tied for 2nd in 2011) during his four-peat bid.

Traditionally the third round of every PGA Tour event is called "moving day" and Stricker did just that shooting a 66 (5-under-par) thanks to four consecutive birdies on the back nine (14th hole through 17th hole) to put him in 2nd place on his own trailing just Troy Matteson by three strokes heading into the final round.  That set-up a "FUBAR Showdown" with Troy Matteson phonetically pronounced "Madison" v. Madison's favorite golfer Steve Stricker.

Stricker's bid for a 4th consecutive win at the John Deere Classic looked on track as the players finished the front nine but it came to a screeching halt when Stricker pulled his drive left out of bounds on the drivable par-four 14th hole.

As I mentioned above, Stricker holed out for an eagle on that very same hole on Thursday. I hate to question Stricker's decision making since he is a professional golfer and I am just a random Cheesehead sports blogger but laying up made much more sense than going for the green.  Stricker played the 14th hole in 4-under-par over three round by trusting his wedge and putter.  Instead of following that same script on Sunday he pressed and paid the price.

Leaving all that aside, Stricker's errant drive forced him to take a penalty stroke, which put him pin high in a horrible spot that was made much worse when he drew a bad lie following his drop.  Stricker pulled off a miraculous chip to get the ball within 6 feet to save par but he pulled the putt left (much like his drive) to card his first bogey of the day.

Things got worse on the next hole when Stricker ended his 153 hole streak without a three-putt with a three-putt bogey.  There was a glimmer of hope when Stricker birdied the 16th hole but that all went away on the very next hole when he bogied the par-five 17th hole.

Going into Sunday I wasn't sure that Stricker could come back from three strokes behind to win the 2012 John Deere Classic since he never overcame more than a two stroke deficit on Sunday in any of his previous 12 PGA Tour wins.

Ultimately Stricker tied for 5th place thus missing out on a playoff between Matteson and Johnson.  Both players were feeling the pressure on the first hole of the sudden death playoff when they hit their second shots on the par-four 18th hole into the water en route to double bogies.  Playing the 18th hole for a 3rd consecutive time, Johnson hit a Stricker-esque bunker shot to win the 2012 John Deere Classic.

The bigger story for Cheesehead sports enthusiasts is Stricker's brush with PGA Tour history though.  If Stricker won the 2012 John Deere Classic he would have become just the 5th player in PGA Tour history to win the same tournament four times in a row joining Tom Morris, Jr. (British Open in 1868-70, 1872), Walter Hagen (PGA Championship in 1924-27), Gene Sarazen (Miami Open in 1926, 1928-30), and Tiger Woods (Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2000-03 and the Farmers Insurance Open in 2005-08).

Stricker was unable to notch his 13th PGA Tour win, which would have been his 10th after the age of 40 and the reason why I call him the Midwestern Cougar of the PGA Tour.  In other PGA Tour Cougar news, the Fijian Cougar is Vijah Singh (22 PGA Tour wins in his 40's) and the Distinguished Cougar is Sam Snead (17 PGA Tour wins in his 40's).

Back to the Midwestern Cougar, he won the opening tournament of the 2012 PGA Tour season so a win at the 2012 John Deere Classic would have given him multiple PGA Tour wins for the fourth consecutive season. There are still a number of PGA Tour events left this season but Stricker's failure to win the 2012 John Deere Classic not only broke his John Deere Classic winning streak but 2012 might be the first season since 2008 that he doesn't win multiple times on the PGA Tour. Yes, that last sentence is my best attempt at reverse jinxing Stricker into winning again in 2012.

Now Midwestern Cougar, Golfing Jesus, and a couple dozen other PGA Tour players get on a chartered flight to the U.K. for the 2012 British Open, which is being held at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.  Stricker desperately wanted a four-peat at the John Deere Classic but winning his first Major next weekend would go a long way towards erasing the disappoint of the 2012 John Deere Classic.

Related Posts:
Quick Thoughts - Steve Stricker wins the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
- Sunday Funday - Cheeseheads Rule Day 1 of the 2011 PGA Championship
- Sunday Funday - Steve Stricker's Three-peat at the John Deere Classic
- Sunday Funday - Steve Stricker won the 2011 Memorial Tournament
- Sunday Funday - Steve Stricker wins the 2010 John Deere Classic

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