Streelman captures first PGA Tour win

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2013, 12:22 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Look closely, and you’ll notice there has been no shortage of parallels in Kevin Streelman’s pro career. 

From looping at Whisper Rock for much-needed cash to winning the club championship there and paying his membership dues.

From having $400 in his bank account to capturing the $1 million Kodak Challenge.

From posting an 84 here in 2008 to owning Innisbrook over the weekend, when he shot 65-67, played bogey-free over the last 37 holes and earned a two-shot victory over Boo Weekley at the Tampa Bay Championship.

Tampa Bay Championship: Articles, videos and photos

“It’s a total dream come true,” Streelman said Sunday after winning for the first time in 153 career starts and earning a return trip to the Masters. “I always had a dream of getting here.”

While Boo Weekley joked with the media, ate pizza and hit a few balls, waiting some three hours to see if his bogey-free 63 would stand up, Streelman was playing the best golf of his life. Clinging to a share of the lead on the treacherous back nine at the Copperhead Course, Streelman stuffed his tee shot on the difficult 13th, then tacked on another birdie on 17 to finish at 10-under 274.

That alone represents a stark contrast from the rest of his season (one top-25 finish), and especially last week, when he putted miserably on his way to a missed cut in Puerto Rico. Streelman had a productive session with his instructor Darren May at the Bears Club in South Florida, but a day later became so ill with a stomach bug that he spent 24 hours in the emergency room.

That was but a distant memory by Sunday, of course. And as he kicked back in a chair in the winner’s news conference, relieved, he peeled back the layers of a compelling backstory.

Streelman, now 34 and with more than $7 million in career earnings, graduated from Duke in 2001, but initially struggled to stick on any of the mini-tours. In fact, he doesn’t know if he even made a cut on the Gateway circuit in his first attempt. “I got my butt kicked, lost all my money,” he said.

At one point he had just $400 to his name, already at a crossroads in his fledgling career. He scrubbed clubs at Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., during the week, working from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., then playing golf until dark. On the weekends he caddied at Whisper Rock, the high-end club in town. (Years later, Streelman won the club championship over Billy Mayfair. This is his fifth year as member.)

In summer 2003, he was a finalist for an assistant coaching position at his alma mater, but didn’t receive the job. The next day, his father loaned him $400 so he could play a Monday qualifier at the Western Open, and Streelman holed a long putt on the last hole to get into his first PGA Tour event.

In 2007, his last year on the mini-tours, Streelman led the money list on both the Hooters and Gateway tours. He had a 66.5 scoring average that summer. But when it came to the first stage of Q-School, and the opportunity to earn his card, he struggled for the first three days and appeared destined for another disappointment. Instead, he ran off four birdies in the last five holes to make the cut on the number. A few weeks later, he was a PGA Tour member, no longer needing to burn through three cars or put 400,000 miles on his mom’s Nissan Altima.

“If one of those (putts) had lipped out,” he said, “I don’t know what would have happened.”

Streelman had a respectable rookie campaign in 2008, even if the nadir came here. During the third round he self-immolated during a 13-over 84 – the worst score in tournament history by a player who made the cut. “This course can do that to you,” he said. “This course gets gusty and running and it really tests you.”

That’s precisely what happened in the third round, which was a big reason why Streelman – not Jim Furyk, not Luke Donald, not Sergio Garcia – emerged victorious. He carded a bogey-free 65 Saturday, when the course became fast and fiery, to grab a share of his first 54-hole lead in three years.

On Sunday, Streelman birdied the opening hole, chipped in on the third and then saved his best shot for the dangerous par-3 13th, which has water short and right, and a narrow green. From 194 yards he hit a “hold” 5-iron to a tucked pin that dropped near the cup and settled 5 feet away.

“That was pretty special,” said his caddie, A.J. Montecinos.

“That is where I was aiming,” Streelman confirmed afterward.

That shot helped propel Streelman to a victory in something other than the Whisper Rock club championship, or the bonus competition known as the Kodak Challenge.

“People always ask me, ‘Have you won yet?’” he said. “And it’s not going to change who I am. It’s just something to put on a resume.”

Indeed, it should fit nicely above desperate caddie, and somewhere below itinerant mini-tour grinder.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern of architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.