Stricker clinches Deere Run hat-trick

Steve Stricker has won the storied John Deere Classic for a third straight time after closing with two killer putts.

Steve Stricker won the storied John Deere Classic for a third successive time at TPC Deere Run on Sunday when he closed with two killer putts.

The first, from 20ft at the 17th, hole gave him a a vital tying birdie, the second from all of 30ft at the last, gave him the winning birdie and the closing 69 he needed to beat fellow American Kyle Stanley by a shot.

That put him alongside the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer on the 21-strong, stellar list of past winners who have achieved a hat-trick of victories on the US PGA Tour.

“It was an unbelievable week and an unbelievable finish. I can’t really believe that it happened yet, to tell you the truth,” Stricker said.

“It was just kind of a roller coaster day today…I feel very fortunate and very lucky to have won.”

Does this make Stricker a good bet for another American winner at Royal St George’s following Ben Curtis’s victory on the last occasion The Open was played there?

You can check out the odds at Sky Bet by clicking here

Earlier Stanley moved into contention courtesy of a sparkling run after the turn that featured five birdies in just six holes.

Stanley, playing in the group ahead of overnight leader Stricker, led by two strokes with two holes to play, but stumbled on the closing holes with a shaky par at the par-5, 17th and a bogey at the last where his 10-foot, par-saving putt lipped out after he had driven into the trees.

Stricker, the world number five, had lost his lead with bogeys at the 15th and 16th, but recovered in spectacular fashion with his hot finish.,

It hadn’t looked possible when he drove into a fairway bunker and seemed unsure of which club to hit next, but, after some hesitation, he eventually hit a fine shot to the back fringe of the green that put him in position to produce his cherry-on-he-top 30ft birdie putt

“Believe or not, I was thinking three and that is why I went back to the six iron,” Stricker said.

“I finally got a good stance in there. I thought I could pull that shot off, but to make that putt was a bonus obviously. What a day.”

The victory gave the 44-year-old Stricker his 11th PGA Tour win and his second this year after his victory at The Memorial last month.

It wasn’t altogether a bitterly disappointing finish for luckless Stanley, who closed with a 66 and would have become the fifth rookie to win on the Tour this year.

His second place earned him a belated and unexpected spot in this week’s Open Championship so it left him little time to reflect over that lip-out at the last as he hurried away to ready himself to fly to England

“It’s great. I’m very excited to go over there and play,” he said. “But I’m still trying to calm down from that (final) round.

“I probably made about 24, 25 birdies (in the tournament), which is good. So I just gotta continue to work hard on that. And we’ll be back.”

Canada’s Matt McQuillan and American Zach Johnson tied for third at 17-under, one stroke clear of Charles Howell III and Chez Reavie.

Top 10 Leaderboard

262 Steve Stricker 66 64 63 69
263 Kyle Stanley 65 67 65 66
267 Zach Johnson 66 69 67 65, Matt
Mcquillan (Can) 64 69 70 64
268 Chez Reavie 66 62 68 72, Charles Howell III 66 68 70 64
269 Brendon De Jonge 66 66 63 74, Cameron Percy (Aus) 66 67 67 69
270 Brian Gay 68 67 69 66, Briny Baird 68 70 68 64, Cameron Tringale 70 66 65 69