While most of the golf world was focused on Michelle Wie winning her first major at Pinehurst No. 2, Duke alum Kevin Streelman was making history at the Travelers Championship.
Streelman— who was the subject of an extended profile two weeks ago detailing his odyssey to the PGA Tour (six years and 100,000s of miles on the mini tours, most notably)—set a PGA Tour record with seven straight birdies to close his final round and win the championship. Streelman finished 15-under-par—two shots ahead of K.J. Choi and Sergio Garcia. It was Streelman’s second career win on the PGA Tour.
"I guess when you're in the zone like that, when athletes talk about being in the zone, everything is really slow, and it's really clear and concise, and it's very vivid," Streelman told reporters afterward. "And the lines are easy to see. The hole seems to appear bigger. It's something we just wish we could be in every week, but to be honest, it kind of clicked on that ninth green when I started just seeing the lines very clear. It's almost to a point it doesn't matter how you read the putts because you just know they're going in before you hit them."
Streelman one-putted the final 10 greens. That might be more ridiculous than hitting seven birdies in a row, which broke the PGA Tour record of consecutive closing birdies by a winner (six) set by fellow Dukie Mike Souchak in the 1956 St. Paul Open.
It was an abrupt change of fortune for Streelman, who had missed the cut in the last four tournaments he entered, including the U.S. Open, where he finished 12-over-par in two days. Streelman said he saw a new instructor ( Wayne DeFrancesco), who gave him some new ideas, and he tried to focus less on golf, concentrating more on his faith and family (wife, Courtney, and 6-month-old daughter Sophie) instead. In fact, Streelman had to keep his mind from wandering ahead to their impending family vacation while he was closing out his round Sunday.
"t was on 12," Streelman said. "I hit a good shot in there and I stepped up, and I just wasn't concentrating that well. I was thinking about ‑‑ we're going off to Flagstaff next week in Arizona and doing some fishing and I was thinking about pulling in some rainbow trout, and I said, I better focus on what I gotta do here, and backed in and buried it."
Streelman, 35, pocketed $1.1 million for the win. He’s currently ranked No. 36 in the world golf rankings. His other PGA Tour win came last year, at the Tampa Bay Championship.
"There's no doubt that obviously Kevin played amazing on the back 9 today, and you know, when somebody does something like that, they deserve to win," Garcia said. "There's no doubt about it."