Steve Stricker moved second on the Official World Golf Ranking after securing a two-shot victory over England’s Luke Donald in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.
Stricker took a six-shot lead into the final round but it was steadily eroded by the chasing pack of Luke Donald, J.B. Holmes and Dustin Johnson. Stricker, who’d played aggressive golf over the first three rounds was on the defensive.
“You’re playing a different game than what you normally play. You played scared – at least I did there for a while,” he said.
The American steadied the ship with back-to-back birdies on the 8th and 9th and another on the 11th. When he holed an excellent putt for par on the 15th, the tournament was effectively his. It was Stricker’s fourth win in his last 15 starts and it saw him climb to second in the World for the second time in his career.
When asked about the prospects of reaching the number one spot, he chose his words carefully.
“We all know who the best player in the world is, and I’ll just continue to do what I do, and that’s practice hard and work at it and try to improve,” he said.
England’s Luke Donald fired an excellent closing round of 66 to end the week alone in second place. The finish lifted him to 23rd on the Official World Golf Ranking. Donald could have pushed Stricker even harder had he not missed makeable birdie putts on the 6th and 7th.
“If I got really hot with the putter, I could have maybe caught Steve,” said Donald. “He played nicely coming down the stretch, and I think he was a deserved winner. But at least I gave him a little run for his money.”
Northern Trust Open
Riviera Country Club, California
Feb 4-7, purse $6,400,000, par 71
1 Steve Stricker (USA) 67 65 66 70 268 $1,152,000
2 Luke Donald (Eng) 68 70 66 66 270 $691,200
T3 J.B. Holmes (USA) 68 69 67 67 271 $371,200
T3 Dustin Johnson (USA) 64 67 74 66 271 $371,200
T5 Paul Goydos (USA) 69 72 68 65 274 $224,800
T5 Steve Marino (USA) 70 67 69 68 274 $224,800
T5 George McNeill (USA) 70 69 66 69 274 $224,800
T5 Andres Romero (Arg) 65 69 70 70 274 $224,800
9 Ricky Barnes (USA) 66 71 69 69 275 $185,600
Note: Player scores in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only