Steve Stricker of the USA survived a final round wobble to win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii by three shots from Scotland’s Martin Laird.
Stricker began the last round five shots ahead of Martin Laird, Jonathan Byrd and Webb Simpson. But after just six holes that lead was down to one. Both Laird and Byrd fired three birdies in the first third of the round while Stricker could do no better than five pars and a bogey.
But the American knuckled down from that point onwards. He rapped in a long birdie putt on the par-3 8th before a tap-in birdie at the next. Three further birdies on the back nine were enough to ensure the title was his.
“It was tough,” said Stricker. “I never let up today. It’s always tough trying to win, and it’s even more tough when you have a lead like I did. I’m very proud of what I did today.”
It was his ninth PGA Tour win since he turned 40 and his 12th overall. It has moved him to fifth on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Scotland’s Martin Laird birdied the final hole to secure second place on his own. He was pleased with his performance and full of admiration for the champion.
“I think probably the most underrated player in the world is Steve Stricker,” he said.
For much of the back nine Jonathan Byrd looked the man most likely to upset Stricker’s march to victory. He was only two behind on the 16th when he knocked his approach shot in close. But Stricker matched his accuracy and both converted for birdie. When Byrd made a bogey at the 17th, his chance was gone.
Byrd finished tied for third with Webb Simpson, four ahead of K.J. Choi and Harrison Frazar who were tied fifth.
Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii
Jan 6-9, purse $5,600,000, par 73
1 Steve Stricker (USA) 68 63 69 69 269 $1,120,000
2 Martin Laird (Sco) 68 70 67 67 272 $650,000
T3 Jonathan Byrd (USA) 67 71 67 68 273 $369,000
T3 Webb Simpson (USA) 68 68 69 68 273 $369,000
T5 K.J. Choi (Kor) 70 73 69 65 277 $245,000
T5 Harrison Frazar (USA) 74 69 66 68 277 $245,000
T7 Chris Kirk (USA) 75 66 70 67 278 $190,000
T7 Bryce Molder (USA) 71 70 67 70 278 $190,000
T9 Ben Crane (USA) 72 71 68 68 279 $165,000
T9 Rory Sabbatini (RSA) 73 70 68 68 279 $165,000
T9 Johnson Wagner (USA) 72 72 68 67 279 $165,000
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
Equipment – Garmin launches G6 GPS System