Joe Podelco / Photo editor
In a game that has seen an emergence of youth domination lately, experience prevailed Sunday as 44-year-old Steve Stricker won the Memorial Tournament by one stroke at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Stricker entered Sunday’s final round with a three shot lead, and added to it when he came out strong on the front nine. The Wisconsin native posted a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine in Sunday’s final round thanks to six birdies.
“Hats off to Steve,” Memorial runner-up Brandt Jobe said. “To make the turn, and I think Matt (Kuchar) and I were both 5-under, and I think we lost a shot to Steve. He was 6-under. You know, he won the golf tournament, and congratulations to him.”
Muirfield’s back nine wasn’t so pleasant for Stricker, who struggled on the course’s final nine on Saturday as well.
Stricker shot a 38 on the back nine for a second consecutive day. A two hour and 34 minute rain delay didn’t do Stricker any favors.
“It was a little bit of a struggle since we came out after the rain delay,” Stricker said. “You know, at that point I’m just trying not to make a mistake. I had a couple opportunities early on, and I wish those putts would have gone in, would have freed me up a little bit. But I hung tough and hit a couple crucial putts when I had to.”
Stricker’s final round score of 68 gave him the one shot victory at 16-under par.
Runners-up Jobe and Kuchar challenged Stricker for the win — each posted rounds of 7-under-par 65, which was good enough for 15-under on the week.
“We made the turn same as yesterday, five-under, was playing great golf,” Kuchar said, “and a little disheartening again to see Stricker doing the same thing, making tons of birdies. My five-under on the front didn’t gain any ground on him. … Looks like just not quite good enough.”
Dustin Johnson and first round co-leader Rory McIlroy rounded out the top five, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
The victory is the 10th of Stricker’s PGA Tour career and vaulted him into fourth position in the Official World Golf Rankings — the highest rank of any American-born player.
Stricker said it was humbling to win the tournament hosted by the sport’s most-decorated champion, Jack Nicklaus.
“He’s a friend,” he said. “It’s truly an honor.”