LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Five years ago, Kevin Streelman was a fledgling pro who was $400 from being flat broke.
He just missed a Monday qualifier for the PGA Tour event in San Diego and wasn’t sure how he was going to get home after he was abandoned by the small sponsorship group that was supposed to be backing him.
“I called this group back in Chicago that had given me $1,500 to get started, and they don't pick up the phone,” Streelman said. “To this day, I have not heard a word from them. And they promised me a bunch of money for that year to get through and totally left me stranded in California.”
Barring a miracle shot by Bo Van Pelt, Streelman will walk away from this week’s PGA Tour event at Disney World with at least $1 million. That's the big payoff for the winner of the inaugural Kodak Challenge.
This week's event, however, is called the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, so Streelman isn’t discounting the possibility that Van Pelt finds the miracle that trumps him.
Streelman leads the Kodak Challenge by two shots. It’s a season-long competition in which PGA Tour pros post their best scores among 18 designated holes spread through the Tour schedule. The final hole is the 17th at Disney World’s Magnolia Golf Club. It’s a 485-yard par 4.
“I’m almost planning on someone holing out,” said Streelman, 31, who is 89th on the PGA Tour money list ($995,017).
Streelman leads the Kodak Challenge at 16-under with Van Pelt, Nathan Green and J.J. Henry at 14-under.
With Green and Henry not in this week's field, Van Pelt’s the only man who can catch Streelman. But Van Pelt needs an eagle at the Magnolia’s 17th to do so, which means he’ll have to hole a shot from the fairway.
Even if Van Pelt does so, Streelman can still win the $1 million with a birdie at the 17th.
“I was never a silver-spoon kid,” Streelman said. “I was never a country club member anywhere. It’s been a lot of hard work.”