Stricker Ties for 2nd at Firestone CC; Looks to PGA

In a positive run up to this week's PGA Championship, Steve Stricker finished in a tie for second Sunday at the WGC Bridgestone Championship in Akron.

Stricker, who will be looking to win his first major championship this week at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, got hot with his putter in the final round at Firestone Country Club and shot 6-under par 64 to finish the week at 12-under.  The 2009-11 John Deere Classic champion tied with Jim Furyk, who double-bogeyed the final hole to open the door for Keegan Bradley, who made a putt of approximately 15 feet to win in dramatic come-from-behind fashion.

It was a good sign for Stricker, who made six birdies Sunday, including four in the last five holes to shoot 31 on the back nine. He hit his irons close and drained mid-range putts with a consistency that has eluded him somewhat this season. He made 17 birdies over 72 holes, third best in the field, and made only five bogeys all week.

Stricker's first birdie came on the 190-yard par 3 fifth when he stuck his tee shot to five fee and made the putt. He drained a 20-footer for birdie on the par 4 eighth after hitting an uncharacteristically long 300-yard tee shot. 

On the back nine, Stricker's birdie barrage began on No. 14, where he made a 14-footer to get to 3-under for the day.  After missing the green to the right on the par 3 15th, Stricker got up and down for par. He then finished with three straight birdies.

On the par 5 16th, he blasted his tee shot 330 yards and made a 15-footer for birdie.  On the short par 4 17th, he hit his 160-yard approach to 14 feet and made the putt for birdie. On the par 4 18th, he hit his 175-yard approach to 13 feet and drained it.

Stricker's 12-under 268 came on rounds of 68-68-68-64.

The second-place finish moved Stricker to No. 10 on the U.S. Ryder Cup team points list.  The top eight receive automatic berths.  Bradley, who previously outside the top eight, moved into fourth place on the list to earn a spot on the team.

Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will announce his four captain's picks on Sept. 4 in New York City.  By moving into the top 12 on the points list, Stricker removes any controversy that might accompany Love's picking him.  Stricker is widely viewed as Tiger Woods' preferred playing partner in two-man competitions.

Hunter Mahan, who won twice earlier this year, is No. 9 on the list. Furyk, the U.S. Open runner up and Ryder Cup veteran, is No. 11.  Rickie Fowler, who starred on the 2010 team, is 12th. 

John Deere Classic 2012 champion Zach Johnson, a two-time winner this year, stands sixth on the points list and is a lock to be on the team.


JULY 10 - 16