Stricker holds off Goydos for second Deere in a row

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Stricker holds off Goydos for second John Deere on the bounce
Paul Goydos couldn't maintain the form that saw him score a 59 on Thursday's opening round at the John Deere Classic in Illinois - but the 45-year-old at least gave Steve Stricker a few scares, as the world No. 4 won the PGA Tour event for the second year in succession.
Stricker finished two strokes ahead of Goydos yesterday, after his worst round of the tournament, a one-under-par, saw him finish 26-under in total. Before then, Stricker had been on fire at TPC Deere Run all week, his first three rounds delivering 27 birdies and just two bogeys, both of which came on the Friday; superior play that had given him a PGA Tour 54 hole record of 25-under-par.
Yet on Sunday the 43-year-old appeared to stall, with just four birdies all round and more alarmingly, three bogeys, one of which came right at the end of the round - almost as if to give Goydos, playing in the same group, some slight encouragement.
At one stage Stricker had been touted as a potential 72-hole record-breaker here, with Ernie Els' 31-under-par lowest 72-hole score in a four-round tournament (made at the 2003 Mercedes Championship) in his sights.
But having begun strongly with two birdies, Stricker unaccountably went off the boil. Goydos had begun the day some six strokes behind Stricker, but by the end of the round he could have secured a play-off with a birdie at the last. In the event, the journeyman player mimicked Stricker in bogeying the 18th, finish on five-under for a disappointing end to a decent day's golf.
The victory is Stricker's second this year and the ninth of his career, and surely gives the American a boost for this week's Open at St Andrews. Stricker may find himself duelling with Goydos at the Old Course, too; that second place finish means the player has belatedly qualified for the British major.
In third place behind Goydos was Jeff Maggert, four strokes back on 20-under, while Shaun Micheel was fourth, with Australia's Matt Jones taking the fifth spot. Charley Hoffman, who finished tied for seventh place, had the best round of the day, six birdies making for a flawless six-under.
It wasn't a great tournament for the Europeans, with the best placed being Norway's Henrik Bjornstad, who finished on nine-under to tie for 39th place. Brian Davis was the Englishman with the highest finish, Davis finishing on six-under, and tied for 62nd place.



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