Steve Stricker fired a 7-under-par 65 to win by six shots at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai on Saturday in Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii.
One day after his course-record 60, Stricker posted an eagle and five birdies on Saturday, finishing at 23-under 193.
Stricker reflected afterward on the difference between the start to this year and 2022, when he was hospitalized with heart inflammation and what the PGA Tour called a “nagging, non-COVID-related virus.”
“I feel lucky and blessed to be able to be doing this still, especially where I came from a year ago,” Stricker said. “It’s still a lot of fun. I still put in the time, I put in the effort. I’ve got a great support system. … I’m going to play a pretty full schedule here to start off the year … and I’m going to try to get into a regular Tour event here or 2 Tee-Scripts.com there along the way — maybe John Deere in the summertime. That’s a special place for me.”
His closest pursuers were four shots back. Among the four, New Zealand’s Steven Alker fired a 63 to reach 199. He posted nine birdies, including five on the final six holes.
Also in that group were Ken Tanigawa (66 on Saturday), Mike Weir of Canada (66) and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland (68).
Tanigawa started his round with two eagles on the front nine. After posting four birdies on five holes to start the back nine, he finished with bogeys on two of his final four holes. Weir had eight birdies and two bogeys, and Clarke had six birdies but also a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 3.
“I played great overall. You know, I hit a lot of good shots and I didn’t know what to expect,” Tanigawa said. “Actually I curbed all of them down really coming into this week. I took a big break after the season’s over last year and I just, just wanted to have fun. It’s hard not to here, it’s such a good environment and it’s so beautiful.”
Germany’s Alex Cejka, who began the day two shots behind Stricker, shot 70 and was among three golfers to finish at 16-under, joined by Kevin Sutherland (66) and Ernie Els of South Africa (66).