Ernie Els tops Steve Stricker in playoff to win American Family Insurance Championship

Steve Stricker’s hope for back-to-back titles at the American Family Insurance Championship came to an end when his short putt on the first playoff lipped out, allowing Ernie Els to win on the Champions Tour for the second-straight week.

“Yeah, unfortunate to give it away like that,” Stricker said. “Did some good things, but thinking back, a few things that I could have done better with.”

It appeared at one point that Stricker was going to run away with things. He owned a 3-shot lead heading to the back nine at University Ridge. But then Els caught fire, with birdies on four of the final seven holes, while Stricker had a couple birdies, along with a bogey.

It setup the second playoff in tournament history. Like the first one, Stricker came out on the losing end. Back in 2019, Jerry Kelly birdied the third playoff hole to top Stricker and Retief Goosen. This time, it was Stricker’s error as opposed to Els’ brilliance that decided things, with the Madison resident missing a par putt that would have extended the tournament to a second playoff hole.

“I feel obviously delighted, elated. It was a very tough day today, and on Friday our first round was very tough, some of the conditions,” Els said of the win. “I really feel for Steve missing that short putt, but I’ve done that, a lot of people have done.”

The missed putt was the final shot of the tournament at University Ridge, its home for the first eight events. It will move to TPC Wisconsin on the north side of Madison next year.