Just a Bit Short at Riviera
I had trouble watching the Back Nine at Riviera on Sunday. Two of my favorite golfers, Steve Stricker of Edgerton, Wisconsin, and Fred Couples of Coolsville, USA, were at the top of the leaderboard at the Northern Trust, dueling down the stretch, both in contention — mixed emotions, to be sure. While neither ended up winning, it made for an interesting afternoon. I was pulling for the Badger, but I could have lived with Freddie taking the prize.
Strick had a chance to all but put it away, but he left a birdie putt just short on 17 and ended up with bogey on the famous uphill 18th. Steve certainly did seem tight on the last few holes, but I won’t say he choked, not when he played the final round in four under. Now Phil Michelson coughing up a four stroke lead on Sunday to play one over — now that was a choke job, even if he did end up scrambling for the win.
After Stricker’s collapse at the Hope a few weeks ago, it was disappointing to see him fail to close out again. However, the fact that he is in the conversation consistently is a good sign, certainly far better than those years earlier this decade when Steve was struggling and doing his best David Duvall impersonation. Besides, cashing a second place check is never a bad thing on the Tour.
It was also good to see Couples, on the cusp of 50 and seemingly a genuinely good guy, still playing at a high level (well, other than that terrible second shot on 18). With Freddie finishing third and Stricker second, it made for a good afternoon for me.