Steve Stricker wins Regions Tradition for first major championship
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
HOOVER – A six-stroke victory, and one bogey in four rounds; Steve Stricker couldn’t have asked for a better week at the 2019 Regions Tradition, as he claimed his first major championship on any tour on Monday, May 13, after Sunday’s final round was pushed back a day due to weather.
Stricker shot rounds of 68, 64 and 70 in the first three rounds with his lone bogey coming on hole four during his third round before closing his week with a bogey-free 4-under par round of 68. In that round of 68, he redeemed his only bogey of the week by chipping in on the par-3 fourth.
“It was finally good to get this under my belt, to get a major win out here on the Champions Tour,” Stricker said. “I never was able to do that on the regular Tour so this is the next best thing.”
It also gave the first-time major champion some confidence heading into the PGA Championship, which will take place this coming Thursday-Sunday at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. To this point, a major on the PGA Tour has eluded Stricker, but he’s now felt the pressure of winning this weekend and hopes that will carry over.
“Nothing can compare to winning one out there,” he said. “To win one out here, though, is the next level. To show myself that I’m able to handle the heat down the end on the last day felt good.”
Coming into the final day of the tournament, Stricker led by two shots at 14 under in front of two-time Regions Tradition Champion Bernhard Langer as well as David Toms and Bill Andrade.
Stricker knew all would be strong competitors throughout the day, but with Langer holding the second most PGA Tour Champions wins of all time at 39, including 10 major victories.
“I wanted to kick his butt today,” Stricker said during the trophy ceremony. “He’s been such a dominant force out here on the Champions Tour for 11 years,” Stricker said. “He’s someone we all look up to and idolize because he handles himself with such class and grace and is a true gentleman of the game. I wanted to win, and beat him, and I wanted to beat everybody today.”
Early in the round, Stricker not only separated himself from Langer, but the entire field.
With him posting two birdies in the first four holes, including the chip in on four, Lagner played that same stretch in even par before shooting a 2-over par 38 on the front nine.
Toms also struggled with a double bogey and bogey through his first five holes, before shooting a 38 as well.
Andrade and Goydos were Stricker’s closest challenges for a while at 12-under par, but neither could get any closer the rest of the way.
With the lack of charge behind, Stricker was able to just play for pars coming in. He made one birdie on the par-5 13th after an approach shot came within feet of the hole, but aside from that closed the back nine with eight pars.
“I knew I had a five or six shot lead at the turn,” Stricker said. “I got off to a good start, but my goal was to not make a mistake today, not make a bogey and I did that. I made just one bogey for the week, which I’m really proud of.”
Stricker ended up finishing at 18 under for the week, which cleared the group of Andrade, Goydos and Toms at 12 under par by six strokes, while Tom Byrum finished in solo fifth at 11 under.
Langer ended up finishing in a tie for sixth at 9-under par with Jeff Maggert, Lee Janzen, Willie Wood and Paul Broadhurst.
Stricker has now won four times on the PGA Tour Champions, and has his first major championship hoping that will lead to success at this week’s PGA Championship on the PGA Tour.