Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Like the Terminator: Always Coming Back

Can we establish a sports precedent for a minute? You cannot be the comeback player of the year in a league or professional sport for two consecutive years. The PGA Tour players have decided to go against convention - and logic - and award Steve Stricker the PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year award for the 2nd year in a row. He beat out Rocco Mediate (coming back from massive back injurty) and Brian Bateman (winner in Michigan at the Buick) to defend his title. What?!

A little play from the PGA Tour's website on Stricker's season:

He had gone six years and 146 tournaments since his last victory. Four times this year, he wasted prime chances to pose with the trophy. The worst feeling Sunday at The Barclays was seeing K.J. Choi pour in two birdie putts that measured a combined 95 feet that gave him the lead and left Stricker destined for more heartache.

In a stunning turnaround, the tears he shed on the 18th green were from sheer joy.

Stricker birdied four of his last five holes to close with a 2-under 69, turning a one-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over Choi and getting the inaugural FedExCup Playoffs off to a rousing start.

Stricker's win was as exquisite as they come. He took the lead Saturday night with a third-round 65 then gutted it out for the first 13 holes of the final round. He lost the lead. Then Stricker birdied four of the last five to put an exclamation point on his comeback with win on a course he swore he would never play again.

"But it was such a relief, to tell you the truth. I've worked. I mean, every player out here wants to do this, wants to win. That's what we are all out here to do. You don't get in position that many times, and when you do, it's tough to pull it off."

So what is the precedent for winning the award twice?

Garrison Hearst in the NFL won the award twice, but on non-consecutive occasions (1995 and 2001).

In MLB, Norm Cash, Boog Powell, and Bret Saberhagen won twice in the American League and Andres Galarraga won twice in the NL. Rick Sutcliffe is the only guy to have won in both leagues.

Major League Soccer's Chris Klein (not the guy from American Pie) has won it twice in 2002 and 2005.

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