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Streelmans birdie worth a million dollars

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – From just under 120 yards Johnny Damon, the scrappy New York Yankees slugger, pulled his approach into the 17th green at Disney’s Magnolia course 20 yards left of the flag, over a green wall and into the bleachers.

On cue, Kevin Streelman gave the former Red Sox player the “touch ’em all” sign for the faux homerun. Two swings later Streelman hit his own metaphorical dinger, roping his 117-yard, sand wedge approach shot to 4 feet for birdie and a commanding three-stroke lead in the season-long Kodak Challenge and a $1 million payday.

Streelman entered the season finale two shots clear of Bo Van Pelt and two other players not in this week’s field, a safe position considering Van Pelt needed an eagle to tie. He put the finishing touches on the trophy and check with his birdie, which prompted three fist pumps and high-5s for the gallery ala Hale Irwin from the normally soft-spoken Midwesterner.

Asked earlier this week what he planned to do with his “crazy Kodak money,” the sheepish Streelman shrugged, “My wife is really good with money. We’ll probably pay off the house (in Scottsdale, Ariz.) and help some friends out. To me it’s more fun to help people.”

Lost in the commotion was playing companion Webb Simpson’s birdie on the hole, which in a cosmic rub allowed the rookie to maintain honors on the final tee. Of course, that $1M probably made that a little easier to swallow for Streelman.