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Stricker completes John Deere hat-trick

Updated: Monday, 11 Jul 2011 00:35

Steve Stricker - the American golfer celebrates after his 25-foot putt on the final hole gave him victory in Illinois
Steve Stricker - the American golfer celebrates after his 25-foot putt on the final hole gave him victory in Illinois

Steve Stricker landed a 25-foot putt on the final green to take the John Deere Classic in Illinois for a third year running.

Stricker, the highest-ranked American in the world, joins Tiger Woods as the only USA player to win a PGA Tour event three times on the bounce in 30 years.

Having held a two-shot lead going into the final day's play, the 44-year-old soon brushed off the attentions of nearest challenger Brendon de Jonge to open up a five-shot advantage at the turn.

But he was quickly pegged back by exciting rookie Kyle Stanley and trailed going into the last two holes, only for a pair of thrilling birdies to see him take the trophy by a shot.

Stanley still had a chance to take it to a play-off on the 18th, but his miss from 10 feet sealed his fate.

Stricker finished on 22 under, with Stanley on 21, while a final-day 64 allowed Canadian Matt McQuillan take a share of third on 17.

Zach Johnson carded the same four-round score as McQuillan - 267 - with Charles Howell III and Chez Reavie, the early pacesetter, finishing off the top six.

'I still can’t believe I made three,' Stricker said of final-hole heroics.

'It was a tough day. It was a struggle all the way round and just trying to win is hard. But it's been a lot of fun.

'To make that putt (at 18) is a bonus obviously. What a day!'

Stanley, who qualified for this week's Open as a result of his placing, added: 'It's great. I’m very excited to go over there and play. But I’m still trying to calm down from that round.'

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