Tournament of Champions: Steve Stricker wins from Martin Laird

Scotland' Martin Laird
Laird won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last year

Scotland's Martin Laird fired five birdies in his closing seven holes to finish second behind Steve Stricker at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Laird began the day in second, five shots adrift of Stricker, but birdied two of his first four holes, his late blitz lifting him to 20 under.

However, he left his surge too late as Stricker carded a 69 to become 2012's first PGA Tour winner on 23 under par.

Webb Simpson and Jonathan Byrd added pressure with 68s to tie for third.

Laird and defending champion Byrd both rolled in two birdies in the opening four holes to trim Stricker's lead to three shots, while Simpson knocked in a 40-foot eagle putt on the par-five fifth to move to two off the pace.

But Stricker, who dropped a shot at the short par-four sixth after opening with five pars, began to restore his advantage with a 24-foot birdie putt on the eighth before picking up another shot at the ninth with a tap-in.

"I felt it kind of slipping away [at the start of the round] but I was patient," said the 44-year-old. "Frustrated, but patient.

"The birdie at eight calmed me down quite a bit and I played steady after that."

Further birdies followed on the 12th, 16th and 18th as Stricker completed an aggregate of 17 under for the back nine over the four rounds at the Kapalua Resort's Plantation Course.

"I was proud of the way I hit the ball, not so proud of the way I putted it but proud of the way I hit it," Stricker added.

"It's always tough trying to win and it's even more tough when you have a lead like I had. I played good though."

South Korea's KJ Choi and America's Keegan Bradley, the only major champion at the tournament, recorded the joint lowest rounds of the day with eight-under-par 63s, to finish on 15 and 11 under par respectively.

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