Stricker disappointed with play
After a week's worth of frustration, the world's No. 2-ranked player closed the Masters Tournament on a good note.
Steve Stricker rode a three-hole stretch on the back nine Sunday to a final-round 71, his first under-par round this week.
"It was a struggle all week, maybe mentally more than anything," said Stricker, who opened with rounds of 73-73-74. "I wasn't patient. I was on the edge of everything.
"It's just a fine line here, and I always seemed to be on the wrong side."
Stricker, who entered with three wins in the past 11 months, was considered a pre-tournament favorite. The Wisconsin native never got off to a good start, however, failing to break par on the front nine in each of his four rounds. He especially lost ground on Nos. 3-6, where he posted seven of his 15 bogeys. He had no answer for that stretch.
"My whole front nine was poor every day," he said. "It's tough to shoot a good score when you make the turn over par. I just never was able to get anything going on the front."
Stricker stood at 5-over for the tournament until he rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 14 on Sunday. He followed by converting a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th. Stricker then knocked his tee shot to three feet at No. 16, setting up a third consecutive birdie.
After failing to get up and down at the closing hole, Stricker finished at 3-over for the four rounds.
"I hung in there," he said. "I did some good things. And I did some poor things."
Stricker is contemplating changing his irons after a dismal performance from the fairway the past week. Despite hitting 77 percent of fairways, he hit just 43 of 72 greens in regulation (60 percent).
"I've been monkeying with some different sets the past year or two," he said. "Now it may be time to switch it up just to get a different look and a different feel."
Despite not getting on the leaderboard during the tournament, Stricker said he believes he can make a run at a green jacket in the future.
"I feel like I can contend here," he said. "The more times you play, the more you feel comfortable with it.
"The more times you go around here, the better. I was just happy I got in a couple of more rounds this weekend. Every day is a learning experience. Hopefully, I'll get back here and do better next year."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.