WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Forget the anchoring ban. With one of the more unusual back-nine rallies in recent memory, Robert Streb raised the question of whether a putter is even needed to contend on the PGA Tour.
After putting out on the ninth green, Streb tossed his putter in the direction of his bag and caddie Steve Catlan. The putter instead took a bad hop off the end of Streb’s bag, snapping the shaft just above the clubhead.
“I missed my putt on 9 and meant to lightly land it next to the bag, and it didn’t make it quite far enough,” Streb said. “Hit the bottom of the bag and the head flew off, so I was like, ‘Huh, that’s not good.’”
That left Streb to putt using his 56-degree wedge over the back nine, and he did so masterfully. He rolled in five birdies with the wedge, including a 26-footer on No. 13 and a 6-footer on the 72nd hole to earn a spot in a four-man playoff.
He carded a 4-under 32 on the inward half, taking only 14 “putts” across his final nine holes.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve practiced with the wedge a lot, but it worked out OK,” he said. “I was just trying to get it close to the hole, and a couple of them went my way.”
Streb earned his breakthrough victory in a playoff last year at the McGladrey Classic, and he was looking to become the fifth player with multiple wins this season.
Because the playoff was considered a separate stipulated round, Streb was allowed to put a backup putter into his bag for overtime. It didn’t help, though, as he pulled his tee shot on the first extra hole and watched as Danny Lee and David Hearn each made birdie, with Lee going on to victory on the next hole.
Despite the runner-up finish, the 28-year-old was pleased with his result considering that he began the day three shots off the lead and played half of his round without the use of his flat stick.
“This far exceeded my expectations, so really happy about it,” Streb said. “The playoff, I wish it could have gone a little differently, but those guys made two great birdies.”