PEBBLE BEACH, California — On the eve of his opportunity to end a six-year victory drought and become the sixth-oldest golfer to win on the PGA Tour, Steve Stricker spoke to the delicate balance of his pursuit.
"I still feel like I'm capable of winning out here," the Madison golfer told reporters as he sat three shots off the lead after 54 holes of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. "Obviously, I have to do a lot of good things to do it."
Unfortunately for Stricker, he didn't do enough of them Sunday.
The 50-year-old Stricker double-bogeyed the par-3 fifth and par-5 sixth holes and never recovered on a day when it would've taken a 66 to force a playoff. His 4-over-par 76 lowered him 21 spots into a tie for 26th place — the same drop that world No. 2 Jon Rahm took — at 7-under 280 after 72 holes over three courses, the last two on the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Ted Potter Jr. birdied four of six holes early on the front nine after a three-putt bogey on No. 1 and then parred his final 11 holes to shoot 3-under 69 and win with a 17-under 270 total. A distinguished foursome featuring Phil Mickelson (67), Jason Day (70), Dustin Johnson (72) and Chez Reavie (68), who lost in a playoff at last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open tied for second, three shots back of Potter, who won for the first time since 2012.
That was the same drought Stricker was trying to end.
After a bogey-birdie start, his chances came crashing to an end like the ocean waves off Pebble Beach on an angry summer's night on No. 5, where a whole host of problems led to his first double-bogey. Another unplayable lie on the par-5 sixth hole led to a double-bogey 7 and — after birdies at Nos. 7 and 11 — Stricker played his final seven holes in 2-over to drop outside the top 25.
Stricker will now take a break from the PGA Tour and — 12 days shy of his 51st birthday — make his season debut on the PGA Tour Champions at the Chubb Classic in Naples, Florida. Fellow Madisonian Jerry Kelly, who won the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship, will also return to the senior circuit after missing the cut this past weekend at Pebble Beach.