Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Birdie run saves Stricker

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Steve Stricker finished the third round of the Tournament of Champions the way he started, with a five-shot lead.

Only it wasn't easy.

Stricker watched his lead dwindle to a single shot on the back nine Sunday before running off four straight birdies on his last four holes for 4-under 69 and a big lead going into the final round of the PGA Tour season opener.

He was at 19-under 200, five shots clear of defending champion Jonathan Byrd (67), Martin Laird (67) and Webb Simpson, who also had 69 while playing in the final group with Stricker.

Stricker, after a two-putt birdie on the 15th, chipped in for birdie on the 16th hole, then knocked in short birdie putts on the last two holes. Through three rounds, Stricker is 13 under on the five closing holes at the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

"I wasn't making any birdies, and it seemed like everybody else was," Stricker said of his play Sunday. "I knew it was going to be tough.

"When you're leading a golf tournament, it's just hard to keep that momentum. When you're not making birdies, you feel like you're letting things slip away. I felt everyone was coming after me, and I was coming back to the pack."

Simpson had a 30-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole for a share of the lead. He missed. Jonathan Byrd had a 4-foot birdie putt on the 16th for a share of the lead. He missed.

"(I) really had a great chance on the last three holes to finish a little bit better," Byrd said, "kind of finish the way kind of Stricker has, and maybe be two shots back or so, but … oh, well.

"(Stricker is) a tough guy to catch. But I don't think any lead is too much."

Tournament organizers decided this year to push the start of the 72-hole stroke-play event back a day, to Friday, so the finish would not bump up against the NFL playoff games on Sunday. The final round is today.

The tournament for the winners of last year's PGA Tour events and the four majors has 27 players, the fewest since the event moved to Kapalua in 1999.

European: Louis Oosthuizen holed a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to top Tjaart van der Walt and defend his title at the Africa Open at East London, South Africa. The 2010 British Open champion beat Van der Walt by two shots after closing with 6-under 67 for 27-under 265 at the season-opening event. Van der Walt shot 69 to finish one shot ahead of Retief Goosen (69).

Comments
Jets turn tables on Blues at home

Jets turn tables on Blues at home

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Connor Hellebuyck was happy to have a hand in helping the Jets get some payback. Less that 24 hours after Winnipeg was shut out in St. Louis, Hellebuyck made 24 saves as the Jets returned the favor with a 4-0 victory over the Blu...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Monday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballHouston Baptist at Michigan State6 p.m.Big TenNorthern Arizona at USF7 p.m.820-AMNebraska-Omaha at Kansas7 p.m.ESPN2Charleston Southern at FSU7 p.m.ESPNU; 1010-AMNorthern Illinois at Marquette7 p.m.FS1Purdue-Fort Wayne at India...
Updated: 6 hours ago

PITTSBURGH — The Patriots have built a dynasty on second chances. Miss an opportunity to bury the Super Bowl champions and they will find a way to find a way, usually behind a mix of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and defensive playmaking at just the r...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

TAMPA — The Bucs and Falcons have each won three straight games on Monday nights as they face each other on a national platform tonight at Raymond James Stadium.How can Tampa Bay continue its streak and stop Atlanta’s? It won’t be easy, but given the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

TAMPA — The beers and the "love ya, bros" were flowing Saturday night at the Hooters in Tampa. Jon Gruden, who will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of tonight’s home game against the Falcons, worked the room, greeting family, frie...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

TAMPA — It’s ridiculous that it took this long to give Jon Gruden a night all his own, given the nights he gave Bucs fans. But it will happen this evening at Raymond James Stadium, a salute to the thermonuclear source of that Super Bowl season, that ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Last-minute run rallies UNC past Vols

Last-minute run rallies UNC past Vols

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — North Carolina passed the kind of road challenge it wanted to face before starting Atlantic Coast Conference competition. Kenny Williams sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 35 seconds left as the seventh-ranked Tar Heels rallied past No...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning has goalie Peter Budaj’s back after near-collapse

Lightning has goalie Peter Budaj’s back after near-collapse

LAS VEGAS — After the Avalanche made a seemingly insurmountable Lightning lead shaky Saturday night, defenseman Victor Hedman was the first to skate toward backup goalie Peter Budaj and give an encouraging pat on the pads with his stick.Budaj’s stat ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

NFL playoff chase

Playoff chaseNFCPos. Team Rec Div ConfDivision leaders1. Eagles-E-* 12-2 5-0 10-12. Vikings-N-z 11-3 3-1 8-23. Rams-W 10-4 4-1 7-44. Saints-S 10-4 3-1 7-3Wild card5. Panthers 10-4 2-2 6-46. Falcons 8-5 2-1 7-2Contention7. Lions 8-6 4-1 7-48. Seahawks...
Updated: 7 hours ago
David Lee: From ending ugly streaks to title to love match

David Lee: From ending ugly streaks to title to love match

David Lee has not played a home game at Madison Square Garden for nearly eight years, but the memories don’t soon fade once a player has inhaled the rarefied air of life as a Knicks fan favorite. Lee knows this better than most.One stubborn example: ...
Updated: 7 hours ago