The playoff at the Travelers Championship pitted two players who had combined to make 371 career starts on the PGA Tour, but Ken Duke is finally a PGA Tour winner after holding off Chris Stroud on the second extra hole. Here is the skinny on the final round at TPC River Highlands:
What it means: It’s a long-awaited title for Duke, 44, who shot a final-round 66 and prevailed on the second playoff hole to win the first PGA Tour event of his career. He had runner-up finishes in both 2008 (twice) and 2007, but never had found himself in the winner’s circle. Now, he is the oldest first-time winner on the PGA Tour since Ed Dougherty, who was 47 years old when he won the 1995 Deposit Guaranty Classic.
Round of the day: Duke’s winning round truly began with a fortuitous bounce on the 10th hole. His approach caromed off a tree and dropped 6 feet from the cup, starting a run of four birdies in a six-hole stretch, including a 60-foot bomb on the 13th. He also made a 6-foot birdie on 15 and a clutch 9-foot par save on 16. In the playoff, he made a two-putt par on the first extra hole, then stuffed a wedge from 117 yards to set up the winning birdie.
Best of the rest: Stroud had gone 183 Tour starts without a top-3 finish but that changed in Hartford. He made two birdies in his last four holes to force a playoff, none more impressive than his chip-in from behind the 18th green that was one of the shots of the year so far. In the playoff, he scrambled for par on the first extra hole, then couldn’t convert a 25-foot birdie putt on the second to extend the playoff. Honorable mention goes to Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, who shot bookend 65s to finish T-5, his fourth top 10 of the year.
Biggest disappointment: One shot ahead as he stood on the 16th tee, Watson rinsed his tee shot and made a triple-bogey 6. Most memorable, however, were his harsh criticisms of caddie Ted Scott, which were picked up by on-course microphones. Watson finished two shots back, in solo fourth.
Shot of the day: It may not have eventually resulted in a victory, but Stroud chipped in from behind the 18th green to force a playoff. Even while battling bronchitis, CBS Sports’ Verne Lundquist managed to roar, “My gracious!”
Quote of the day: “I’ve worked hard; I had a great session with Mr. (Bob) Toski last week. I’ve knocked on the door a lot, and here we are. This is what it’s all about.” – Duke