Darren Clarke stalled after an impressive opening round to finish just inside the top 30 at the Sanford International at the PGA Tour Champions as Steve Stricker continued his dominance with his sixth win of the season.
Clarke combined five birdies with three bogeys and a double bogey for a final round of level par 70 to finish in a tie for 29th place.
Steve Stricker started Sunday with a one-stroke lead, yielded it to K.J. Choi early on the back nine and then roared back to defend his title. It was Stricker’s third victory at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and his sixth win of 2023 in just 15 starts. The Champions Tour record for wins in a single season is nine, shared by Peter Thomson and Hale Irwin.
Stricker eagled the par-5 12th to knot things up with Choi and birdied 15 to take a one-shot lead that he never relinquished. Stricker’s lead was two when he arrived at 18, so when he spun his second shot off the two-tiered green to some 60 feet and a tier below the hole, he could afford a rare three-putt bogey.
“Kind of limped it in there on the last hole, but I knew I had a couple shots to play with,” Stricker said. “It was a battle. Always on these Sundays trying to win a golf tournament is a battle, not only your emotions, the game, everything, you know, just trying to get it done. But it’s so rewarding when you do it.”
No one knows that feeling this year better than Stricker, who hasn’t finished below a tie for eighth all year.
“I had a nice birdie putt at 10 that I didn’t make and I was kind of kicking myself, didn’t birdie 11, but then that eagle at 12 kind of jump started that back side,” Stricker said. “Again, it’s a lot of fun. I didn’t hit the shots like I wanted to at times and that’s what keeps you grinding, keeps you working at it, trying to improve, but ultimately got it done, which is really cool”, he said
Joe Durant came in solo third. Bernhard Langer shot the second-lowest round of six-under-par 64, on Sunday to best his age by two and rise the ranks into fourth.
John Daly tied for seventh, marking his first top 10 since a T8 at the American Family Insurance Championship in June 2022.