Steve Stricker Wins PGA Tour Season Opener: Hyundai Tournament of Champions
If the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is any indication of how the 2012 PGA Tour season is going to be, golf fans are in for a real treat. Steve Stricker won the first event of the year by shooting a 4-under (69) during the final round on Monday to hold off charges by Martin Laird and defending champion Jonathan Byrd.
(Steve Stricker made 26 birdies on is way to victory. Photo: ESPN.com)
Stricker was the top ranked player in the field, coming into the tournament sixth in the Official World Golf Rankings and he lived up to the billing. He made 26 birdies, one eagle and just three bogeys in 72 holes. Stricker was particularly impressive during his bogey free second round where he shot 10-under par (63) and on holes 14-18 where he was 15-under for the event.
The win is the first for Stricker since he won the John Deere Classic in July 2011. It was his second win of the 2011 season but struggled after that missing out on the top 10 for the remainder of the season. He helped the American team to victory at the Presidents Cup in Australia despite suffering from back pain which forced him to withdraw from the BMW Championship. This weeks win is Stricker's 12th career PGA Tour victory and he has now won in four consecutive PGA Tour seasons dating back to 2009.
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Jonathan Byrd, the 2011 Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner, looked like he was going to make it two in a row on day one. He made six consecutive birdies from holes three to eight to start the tournament. He was cooled off with a bogey on nine and didn't find himself in contention again until the final round when he was within one stroke of Sticker. A bogey on the 17th hole dropped him to 19-under for the tournament where he would finish tied for 3rd with Webb Simpson.
The PGA Tour hosts its first full field event this week at the Sony Open of Hawaii. Mark Wilson is the defending champion.