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Steve Stricker wins senior player championship

AKRON, Ohio – Steve Stricker won the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship on difficult Firestone Sunday for his second win of the year and third major title.

Eight strokes ahead in the third round and 4 strokes ahead of the final round, Stricker concluded with a 70-point tie for a 6-stroke victory over the defending champion and Wisconsin friend. Jerry Kelly.

“It was so hard,” Stricker said. ‘It’s so hard to have an advantage. And then playing with a friend, Jerry, out there, basically it’s his home court. This is exactly where he grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He plays well here. I could say he played well and I’m just trying to hold on. It’s hard to play when you’re not so aggressive, but I’m happy. It was a difficult battle. ‘

Stricker finished on the South Course at 7 under 273. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain opened with a 63, shooting 68 in the second round and 72 in the third round.

Kelly has scored four of the last five holes in a 72. He won the U.S. Family Insurance Championship two weeks ago, the tournament that Stricker hosts in their hometown of Madison.

“Just a good golf course,” Kelly said. “I mean, to shoot even if you have such a lead, it’s hard. I would have to shoot 4 under to catch him.”

Stricker bounced back on the par-4 fourth with a bully with birdies on the par-4 sixth, par-3 seventh and par-4 ninth to make the turn at 9 bottom. He dropped strokes on the back nine on the par-4 11th and 13th.

He won the Chubb Classic in Florida in April, then wasted the lead in the first two senior majors of the year, Alex Cejka in the Regions Tradition in Alabama and Senior PGA Championship in Oklahoma.

“I knew I had the lead in the other two and did not win either,” Stricker said. “It was even harder because I had it in the back of my head, so it means even more that I was able to get to the top.”

His wife, Nicki, worked as his caddy.

“It’s always great to have her out here,” Stricker said. “She’s a calming influence and we work well together. Yes, it’s good. She still enjoys getting out, the kids still enjoy getting out, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Stricker has seven senior victories after winning 12 times at the PGA Tour. He secured a spot in the Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass next March.

“Look forward to it,” Stricker said. “I came in on Thursday morning this year, so next year I’ll get a little more practice and preparation. I’m looking forward to it. It’s always nice to go to the Players Championship.

Fred Couples shot 67 to tie for third David Toms (70) on an equal footing. Ernie Els (72) was fifth on 2 left. Jim Furyk (73) was a hold back again.

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