DURHAM, N.C. -- Former Duke golfer Kevin Streelman birdied the final seven holes Sunday to capture the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn. with a 15-under 265. Streelman’s second PGA Tour victory, having captured the Tampa Bay Championship last year, came in dramatic fashion as he shot back-to-back rounds of 64 over the final two days to claim the $1,116,000 winners' purse by one shot over Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi.
“I made an awesome putt on ten and told my caddie AJ let’s go shoot 29 on the backside,” Streelman explained to CBS TV following the victory. “I got one better, I actually made ten one putts in a row and it was just one of those days where I felt I couldn’t miss and had a great time.”
He started the day four shots off the lead after shooting a 64 on Saturday with seven birdies. He made the turn at 1-over par 36, after birding the par-4 ninth. He then one-putted the 10th and 11th holes for par to remain at one-over before beginning his birdie run on No. 12. The birdie streak reached five with a 37-foot putt at No. 16, and he capped it by hitting a wedge to nine feet and rolling in another putt at No. 18.
Ironically, Streelman broke the tour record for consecutive closing birdies by a winner of six set by another former Duke golfer, Mike Souchak in the 1956 St. Paul Open.
Streelman came into the Travelers Championship having missed the cut at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst shooting 75-76. He had also missed cuts at his last three events leading up to the Open at the The Players Championship, The Memorial and the FedEX St. Jude Classic. Prior to the consecutive cuts he had finished 14th at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte in early May.
“I had great perspective this week, I was here with my daughter and we had a two-week vacation coming up so we just wanted to come here and have fun,” he explained. “We were kind of down on ourselves missing four straight cuts and we had the greatest study on Tuesday night with Ben Bost (of the FCA) and Ben Crane who spoke some truth into my life and some things I just needed to hear. Golf had become too important in my heart and I let it go and it freed me up to play some better golf.”
Following his birdie putt on 18 he was immediately met by his wife Courtney and almost 6-month old Sophie, who he held tightly in his arms as he was greeted and congratulated by almost everyone at the tournament for his remarkable effort.
“I was thinking about her (Sophie) on those last couple of putts. I was thinking, ‘You know what? If these go in, great. If not, great. She’s going to love me either way and we have a nice family vacation coming up either way,” said Streelman.
Streelman becomes the fourth Duke golfer with multiple PGA Tour wins. Mike Souchak leads the way for the Blue Devils with 15 followed by Art Wall at 14 including the 1959 Masters and Skip Alexander with three.