Steve Stricker finally found the winning formula at the Memorial on Sunday.
Stricker, who had never finished in the top 10 in his 11 previous trips to Muirfield Village, built a big lead with more flawless golf on the front nine, then relied on his silky putting stroke for two clutch pars to hang on for a one-shot victory.
He closed with a 4-under 68, lagging from 20 feet for a two-putt bogey on the 18th hole. By then, the hard work was over. Stricker twice saved par from bunkers on the 16th and 17th holes, making putts of 15 feet and 7 feet to go to the last hole with a two-shot lead.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Stricker said to tournament host Jack Nicklaus walking off the 18th green.
The biggest consolation prize went to former Kansas University standout Gary Woodland, who had a 68 to finish alone in sixth. Woodland likely will move to about No. 40 in the world ranking, making him virtually a lock to get into the U.S. Open. He had been scheduled for a 36-hole qualifier this morning in Columbus, Ohio.
Matt Kuchar and Brandt Jobe each closed with a 65 to tie for second.
The 44-year-old Stricker moved to No. 4 in the world and became the highest-ranked American for the first time in his career. He won for the 10th time, and the seventh time since he turned his game around five years ago.
Dustin Johnson closed with a 65 to finish fourth, followed by Rory McIlroy (68).
Stricker, who led by four shots at the turn, made it more interesting than it needed to be, especially after a 21⁄2-hour storm delay that slowed his momentum following a spectacular bunker save behind the 12th green.
He had a three-shot lead with five holes to play when he missed a short birdie on the 14th, then pulled his tee shot into the woods on the par-5 15th to make a bogey. His lead was down to two, and he faced a tough finish