Steve Stricker expected a tough day. Everyone else expected him to win. Turns out both sides were right.
Stricker watched a six-shot lead slip to two after five holes Sunday before he steadied himself and shot a 1-under-par 70 for a two-shot win over Luke Donald in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in Los Angeles.
His fourth PGA Tour victory in his last 15 starts moved him up to No. 2 in the world ranking. Stricker won for the eighth time in his career, and once again welled up with tears. This time, all it took was a reminder of where he was four years ago, when he lost his PGA Tour card.
"I remember where I was and where I am now," he said. "It doesn't get any better."
Stricker had to grind for pars as Donald kept pouring in birdies. But after Donald missed two short birdie attempts, Stricker made two straight birdies to restore a comfortable margin. He finished at 16-under 268 and earned $1.152 million to surpass $25 million for his career.
"It was hard today," Stricker said. "I aged a lot out there. It was a grind from the get-go."
This is the second time Stricker has gone to No. 2 in the world - he also got there in September - although he likely still would have to win at least three more times to catch Tiger Woods, who is out indefinitely as he tries to save his marriage.
Donald birdied the 17th to again get within two shots, but that was as close as he ever got. He shot a 66.
Phil Mickelson, trying to become the first to win three straight years at Riviera, had a 73 and finished 14 shots behind.
Jimenez wins in Dubai
Miguel Angel Jimenez beat Lee Westwood on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff in the Dubai Desert Classic. - AP