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Stricker Wins Memorial to Become Top-Ranked American Golfer

Steve Stricker held on for a one-shot win at Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial Tournament to become the top American in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Stricker overcame bogeys on two of the final four holes yesterday to capture his 10th U.S. PGA Tour title. He finished 16-under par, one shot better than Matt Kuchar and Brandt Jobe, who shot rounds of 7-under-par 65 yesterday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

“When you’re going through it, your stomach is in a knot,” Stricker, 44, said at a news conference. “I keep thinking I’m going to come out on top, but it’s still a nerve-wracking time. It just gets harder to win out here and you don’t want to blow the opportunity.”

Stricker, who has won seven times since turning 40, earned $1.12 million and climbs four spots to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, moving past Phil Mickelson and Kuchar.

“It’s a good feather in my cap heading to the U.S. Open,” said Stricker, whose last PGA Tour win came about 11 months ago at the 2010 John Deere Classic.

Stricker said he’ll skip this week’s St. Jude Classic in Memphis, the final PGA Tour event before the U.S. Open. The second major of the year, the U.S. Open is scheduled to begin June 16 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

First Nine Holes

Stricker, who had never finished in the top 10 in 11 previous visits to the Memorial, shot a combined 20-under par on Muirfield Village’s first nine holes. He was 4-over par for the week on the nine closing holes.

Stricker played the first nine holes yesterday in 6-under par. When play resumed following a 2-hour, 34-minute rain delay, he took a penalty drop after pulling his drive at No. 15 into a thicket of trees. The error led to a bogey six, cutting his lead to two shots.

Stricker parred the 16th and 17th holes after hitting into bunkers and then hit into a fairway bunker on the closing hole. After leaving his approach shot short of the green and missing a 12-foot par putt, Stricker tapped in a bogey putt for the victory and was congratulated as he walked off No. 18 by Nicklaus, a record 18-time major championship winner.

“What did I shoot on that front nine, 20-under for the week? But I needed them all, I guess, the way I played that back nine,” Stricker said. “It was a tough finish.”

Dustin Johnson finished fourth, four shots behind Stricker, followed by Rory McIlroy at 11-under par and Gary Woodland at 10-under. World No. 1 Luke Donald was in a group of players that tied for seventh place at 8-under par.

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