Golf roundup: Streelman finally a PGA Tour winner
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – The uphill climb to the 18th green at Innisbrook was nothing compared with the journey that brought Kevin Streelman his first PGA Tour victory.
He burned up three cars driving some 400,000 miles across the country playing the mini-tours. He used to clean clubs during the week and caddie on the weekends.
His biggest claim on tour was winning $1 million from a bonus competition called the Kodak Challenge. His last win was five years ago in the club championship at Whisper Rock.
Streelman won the Tampa Bay Championship Sunday in his 153rd start on the PGA Tour.
The way he played this weekend on the tough Copperhead course – particularly the back nine – made it look as if he had done this many times before.
“Always had a dream of getting here,” Streelman said. “And so to get this is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of time spent late into the evening, and getting up early in the morning. And it’s really a dream come true.”
Streelman took the lead for good with a 5-iron into 6 feet on the par-3 13th, the toughest at Innisbrook on the final day, for a birdie.
“Probably the best shot of my life in that situation,” Streelman said. “It’s just how I envisioned it and I pulled it off.”
He played with so much peace and precision that his target on the daunting tee shot at the 16th hole was a group of four trees. He aimed between the second and third tree. And he met his final challenge with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole, leading to a 4-under 67.
Streelman didn’t make a bogey over the last 37 holes. He didn’t miss a shot the last 11 holes.
“Hopefully, we can do it again,” Streelman said. “This is a lot of fun.”
Boo Weekley, who teed off three hours before the leaders, had a tournament-best 63 and waited to see if that would be enough. He kept up hopes until Streelman made birdie on the 17th, and then ripped another tee shot down the middle on the 18th.
The victory sends Streelman, who finished at 10-under 274, to the Masters next month for the second time in his career.
Cameron Tringale had a 66 and finished alone in third when Leonard, who earlier made bogey from the bunker on the 16th, three-putted the final hole for a 71. Leonard wound up in a tie for fourth with defending champion Luke Donald (69) and Greg Chalmers (70).
The other big winner was Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old from Texas who holed a 50-foot chip for birdie on the 17th hole and made a 7-foot par putt on the final hole for a 70 to tie for seventh.
That gave him enough money to earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour for the rest of the year, meaning he can take unlimited sponsor exemptions.
Until making that chip, Spieth was projected to be $195 short of the temporary membership, which is based on earning the equivalent of 150th on the money list last year.
“That would have been brutal,” he said with a grin. “But it’s nice to get the crowd excited on 17. That was one of the coolest shots I’ve ever hit. That was as loud as it gets. Hair on the back of your neck stands up. But yeah, if I was $200, short, I would have just asked if I could pay them $200.”
He now has earned $521,893 in three starts, the bulk of that coming from a runner-up finish in the Puerto Rico Open last week.
The 34-year-old Streelman had the 14th consecutive win by an American in official PGA Tour events, dating to Tommy Gainey at Sea Island last fall. Americans have won the first 12 events of the season, their best streak since winning 13 in a row in 1989.
All that mattered to Streelman was finally getting a win.
“Just keep chasing your dreams,” Streelman said. “You never know what will happen.”
Sixteen players were within three shots of the lead when the final round began, and anything could have happened. No one imagined a 63 at Innisbrook, and Weekley’s round was so strong that it was 8.6 shots better than the field average.
“That will go down as one of the best rounds of the year,” Pat Perez said in the parking lot, pleased with his own 67 and stunned someone could have a 63.
Weekley began his round by missing a 4-foot birdie putt, and he closed with such brilliance that he ran off three straight birdies on the back nine from inside 2 feet.
“It was impressive,” Weekley said. “Even I’m still kind of shocked at how good I really hit it. The greens that I missed, I thought were going to be perfect. Overall, one of the best days I’ve had in ball striking in a long time.”
Considering what was on the line, Streelman’s performance might have been better, even if his score was only a 67. He had to play in the final group, knowing that he hasn’t had a chance this good to finally win.
“That was really cool,” Streelman said. “I just stayed really patient, and I had a peace about me today.”
Lewis wins LPGA event: Stacy Lewis won the LPGA Founders Cup Sunday in Phoenix to jump to No. 1 in the world, taking advantage of Ai Miyazato’s collapse on the 16th hole.
A day after Lewis was penalized two strokes for her caddie’s blunder on the short par 4, the American took a two-stroke lead with a birdie on the hole after Miyazato made a double bogey following an errant approach shot that left her with an unplayable lie in a desert bush.
Coming off a victory two weeks ago in Singapore, Lewis won for the seventh time in her LPGA Tour career to end Yani Tseng’s 109-week run at No. 1.
Lewis closed with an 8-under 64 in perfect conditions at Desert Ridge to finish with a tournament-record 23-under 265 total on the cactus-lined Wildfire layout.
Miyazato was second, three strokes back after a 71. The Japanese star took a four-stroke lead over Lewis and Jee Young Lee into the final round when Lewis was penalized after play Saturday when it was ruled that caddie Travis Wilson tested the sand before Lewis played out of a bunker on No. 16.
Frost ties tourney record: David Frost won the Toshiba Classic, shooting a final-round 65 to defeat Fred Couples by five strokes and tie the tournament record of 19-under 194 set by Jay Haas in 2007.
Frost joined 2011 winner Nick Price as the only golfers to lead wire to wire in the event’s 19 years. It was his fourth career Champions Tour victory and first since last year’s AT&T Championship in San Antonio.
In four events this season, Frost hasn’t finished out of the top 10, posting ties for ninth, fifth and losing in a playoff to John Cook in Hawaii in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
Couples began the day a stroke behind Frost and tied him after a birdie on the first hole. That was the last time Frost would relinquish the lead.
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