KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii — Steve StrickerCompeted for the first-time in three months, and nothing changed. He opened the PGA Tour Champions year with a 7-under 65 to win the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai by six shots.
Stricker took control with a 60 in round two for a 2-shot lead. With three birdies in four holes, Stricker was the first to take control.
Stricker smiled and said, To win, I dont even know what kind of game it was.
He has now won four PGA Tour Champions in his five previous starts. Last year, he ended the year with consecutive wins before taking off the postseason for the Wisconsin outdoors.
Stricker was only briefly challenged by the Big Islands beautiful day. He was still 2 shots ahead in hard-charging Ken TanigawaStricker made a break-in 10-foot birdie putt at the 13th and followed that up with a 45 foot eagle putt, which dropped into the cup at a perfect pace.
It was a fight for second place that ended in defeat.
Steve AlkerCharles Schwab Cup champion last season, he closed with a 63, and earned a share in second place with Tanigawa (66) Mike Weir(66) Darren Clarke(68), who missed an 8 foot birdie putt on hole final.
Stricker now has 12 career wins at the PGA Tour Champions, which is the same number as his titles on the regular PGA Tour.
He finished at 23-under 193 with a $340,000 lead in the Schwab cup.
Stricker didn’t start last season until May because he was recovering from an inflammation of his heart. He lost 25 pounds, had his white blood count spike and had his liver count plummet.
He won four times and closed out his October season by winning three of his final four. Then he sat out the Schwab Cup playoffs during hunting seasons.
Stricker stated that he was going to play more. He will turn 56 in February, but he still wants to play the occasional PGA Tour tournament to see how his game compares to the best.
He said, Its still great to compete with the best, but its going to be fun out here, playing as many as I can. Its a good start.
Both Weir and Tanigawa dropped shots late in pursuit of second place. The other thing that cost him money was Alex CejkaHe was in second place until he tried to play from the lava rock left by the 16th green, making double bogey. He also bogeyed 17th green and tied for sixth with 70.